Turkey-Syria quake toll now 28,000; may double or more, says UN relief chief

Miraculous survival tales keep emerging from under the rubble to keep hopes alive; seventh IAF aircraft carrying relief materials for quake victims lands in Adana under Operation Dost

Turkey Syria earthquake
Rescue workers continue the search for victims of the earthquake in Antakya, Turkey, on Saturday (February 11) | Image: AP

A week after the devastating Turkey-Syria earthquake, the death toll has risen to 28,000. According to the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator for the United Nations (UN), Martin Griffiths, who is currently in southern Turkey to assess the damage, the final toll will double the current figure or more.

The official toll in now 24,617 deaths in Turkey and 3,574 in Syria. The confirmed total now stands at 28,191 even as rescue workers continue to toil round the clock in the hope of finding more survivors. And miraculous tales of survival have continued to emerge from the rubble.

A two-month-old baby was rescued from under the debris in Turkey’s Hatay on Saturday (February 11) to cheering and clapping crowds, nearly 128 hours after the quake. A two-year-old girl, a six-month pregnant woman, and a 70-year-old woman were among those rescued five days after the quake, Turkish media reported.

More than 40,000 working on rescue ops


As many as 6,000 buildings collapsed in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the Turkey-Syria border area on Monday. Amid hundreds of aftershocks and freezing weather, rescue workers have continued to scour flattened neighbourhoods.

According to Turkey’s disaster agency, more than 32,000 people from Turkish organisations and 8,294 international rescuers are working on search-and-rescue efforts.

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Griffiths arrived in southern Turkey on Saturday to assess the quake’s damage. “I think it is difficult to estimate (the death toll) precisely, as we need to get under the rubble, but I’m sure it will double or more,” he told Sky News.

“Soon, the search and rescue people will make way for the humanitarian agencies whose job it is to look after the extraordinary numbers of those affected for the next months,” Griffiths said in a video on Twitter.

The UN has already warned that at least 870,000 people urgently need hot meals across Turkey and Syria. Up to 5.3 million people may have been made homeless in Syria alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) has put the total number of affected people at almost 26 million. It launched a flash appeal on Saturday (February 11) for $42.8 million to cope with immediate health needs.

India sends 7th plane with relief

India is among the several countries that have sent aid and relief materials to the quake-hit countries. The seventh aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) carrying relief materials for the victims landed in Adana on Sunday (February 12) under Operation Dost.

The IAF C 17 Globemaster carried 13 tonnes of medical equipment and other aid for Turkey and 24 tonnes for Syria. The National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) sent about 21 tonnes of relief material to Turkey and Syria from the 8th Battalion NDRF.

Watch: Will India, Pakistan, Afghanistan face quakes like Turkey? Researcher says they may

Hunger and despair have gripped hundreds of thousands of people left homeless by the tremors. Dozens of people have been arrested for looting or trying to defraud victims, Turkish state media has reported.

The Turkey-Syria quake now ranks as the world’s seventh deadliest natural disaster this century, fast approaching the 31,000 death toll of the 2003 Iran earthquake.

As part of its “emergency aid,” Germany will grant three-month visas to Turkish and Syrian earthquake victims with family in the country, said German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, according to AFP.

(With agency inputs)