Turkiye, Syria earthquake: Over 5000 died; emergency announced for three months in affected provinces

Turkiye, Syria earthquake: death toll passes 4800
Rescue efforts continue at collapsed Iskenderun State Hospital annex building after 7.7 magnitude earthquake hits Hatay, Turkey [Sezgin Pancar/Anadolu Agency]

ISLAMABAD, Feb 07 (Agencies/ APP Web Desk): The death toll from the devastating earthquakes in Turkiye and Syria crossed the 5000 mark, as hectic rescue and recovery operations were underway in a bid to rescue as many people trapped in the rubble as possible in freezing weather, international media reported Tuesday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared seven days of national mourning and three month state of emergency in 10 provinces worst affected by the deadly earthquake, BBC news reported on Tuesday.

Erdogan said the death toll in Turkey has risen to 3,549 people, while more than 1,600 people are reported to have died in Syria.

Meanwhile, the world leaders have pledged to send aid after Turkiye issued an international appeal for help.

Authorities fear the death toll from Monday’s predawn magnitude 7.8 temblor, followed by a magnitude 7.6 earthquake and several aftershocks will continue to climb as rescuers looked for survivors among tangles of metal and concrete spread across a region.

Adelheid Marschang, a WHO senior emergency officer, has said about 23 million people, including 1.4 million children, are likely to be affected by the quake, The Guardian reported.

Turkiye, Syria earthquake: Over 5000 died; emergency announced for three months in affected provinces
Rescue and relief efforts are ongoing in Gaziantep [Abdulsalam Jarroud/Al Jazeera]

As per The Guardian, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said more than 8000 people had been pulled from debris in Turkiye while about 380,000 had taken refuge in government shelters and hotels with others huddling in shopping malls, Mosques and community centres.

Orhan Tatar, an official with Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), said earlier on Tuesday that 20,426 others were injured. Tatar said more than 5,700 buildings had also been destroyed.

In Syria, at least 1,602 people were killed and about 3,500 others were injured, according to the Ministry of Health and the White Helmets rescue organisation.

The regional director of the Mercy Corps humanitarian aid organisation says the situation in northern Syria is “pretty similar” to Turkey’s.

Turkiye, Syria earthquake: Over 5000 died; emergency announced for three months in affected provinces
Rescuers search for survivors in Aleppo, Syria February 7, 2023 [Firas Makdesi/Reuters]

Rescuers in Turkiye are battling heavy rain and snow as they race against the clock to find survivors of the earthquake that struck in the early hours of Monday.

The World Health Organization has warned the toll may rise dramatically as rescuers find more victims.

The United States Geological Survey said the initial earthquake was centred about 33km (20 miles) from Gaziantep, a major Turkish city and provincial capital.

Dozens of countries from around the world have promised help in search and rescue operations that are being hampered by cold and snow.

The Turkish region of Duzce suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999, when more than 17,000 people died –including about 1,000 in Istanbul.

Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate Istanbul, a megalopolis of 16 million people filled with rickety homes.

The last 7.8-magnitude tremor shook Turkey in 1939, when 33,000 died in the eastern Erzincan province.

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