The number of casualties from the series of earthquakes hitting Türkiye and Syria early Monday has been updated to 4,300, it was reported. Due to the time the quake occurred (4.17 local time), most people were sleeping in their homes and many were unable to escape. Rescuers are searching for survivors in the rubble.
In Türkiye, the death toll has risen to 2,921 and the number of injured to 15,834, the national emergency agency (Afad) reported, while in Syria at least 1,300 people have been killed and 3,400 injured. Some 7,800 people have been rescued in Türkiye from the rubble of the thousands of buildings that collapsed in the two strong tremors.
Some 25,000 people, including soldiers, are involved in rescue efforts, according to Orhan Tatar, a senior official at the national emergency agency, Afad, who said € 12.1 million in emergency funds have been allocated to the ten worst-hit provinces. Dozens of countries have already begun sending hundreds of rescuers and experts to search for survivors, while over 300,000 people have been housed in university centers, shelters, and student residences. Cold temperatures and snow in the area are complicating rescue efforts.
Local authorities reported cuts in gas and electricity supplies in some areas. The state oil company cut off crude oil supplies to the region as a precautionary measure.
In civil war-torn Syria, reports of casualties are coming from the government of Bashar al-Assad on the one hand, and from the last enclave of the country controlled by the opposition, which is surrounded by Russian-backed government forces on the other. In the regime-controlled area, the latest figures spoke of 593 dead and 1,411 wounded, according to SANA. In the northwestern province of Idlib, the last opposition stronghold, and in other parts of neighboring Aleppo beyond Damascus control, at least 700 people were killed and some 2,000 wounded, according to the White Helmets rescue group. These opposition areas, bordering Türkiye, are closer to the epicenter. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recalled that these opposition areas, heavily affected by the earthquake, are home to 4.1 million people who depend on humanitarian aid to survive, and who are mostly women and children.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry called on the UN, NGOs, and governmental organizations to support the government's efforts to deal with the humanitarian catastrophe, according to a statement released through SANA, while a total of 45 nations have offered assistance, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Due to the fact that debris removal work continues in many buildings in the quake zone, we do not know how much the number of dead and injured will be, Erdogan said this morning. He also declared seven days of mourning. Türkiye's president called it the worst disaster since the Erzincan quake, which killed 32,968 people and injured 100,000 in 1939.
US President Joseph Biden was among the world leaders Monday to offer help and express his condolences to Erdogan.
The Disaster and Emergency Management Agency in Türkiye said there have been 183 aftershocks since the original earthquakes including one of 7.6 magnitude at 7.24 am local time, with more than 5,600 buildings destroyed as of late Monday, Nearly 10,000 search and rescue personnel have been deployed to find survivors, with 73 countries responding to Türkiye's call for aid, according to an updated report.
I am deeply saddened by the news of the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria and offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Twitter.