According to Turkey’s disaster management agency, the number of fatalities from the devastating earthquake that struck both Turkey and Syria has increased to over 15,000 as rescue efforts continue to uncover more bodies from the ruins of homes that were destroyed in the affected area.
The announcement was made on Thursday.
Operation Dost | This is the biggest natural disaster to hit Turkiye since 1939. We received an email from the Turkish side for assistance and within 12 hours of the meeting, first SAR flights left for Turkey from Delhi: MEA Secretary West Sanjay Verma #turkeyearthquake2023 pic.twitter.com/M6azADuiM9
— ANI (@ANI) February 8, 2023
The agency said 12,391 people had been confirmed killed in Turkey after Monday’s early morning earthquake and series of aftershocks, which brought down thousands of buildings in southeastern Turkey.
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On the other side of the border in Syria, another 2,902 people have been reported to have been killed.
Rescue workers continued to pull living people from the damaged buildings but hope was starting to fade amid freezing temperatures more than three full days since the quake hit.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the especially hard-hit Hatay province on Wednesday, where residents have criticized the government’s efforts, saying rescuers were slow to arrive.
Erdogan, who faces a tough battle for re-election in May, reacted to mounting frustration by acknowledging problems with the emergency response to Mondays 7.8-magnitude quake, but said the winter weather had been a factor. The earthquake also destroyed the runway at Hatays airport, further disrupting the response.
Also Read: Why is Turkiye prone to earthquakes? Last year saw 20,277 quakes
It is not possible to be prepared for such a disaster,” Erdogan said. We will not leave any of our citizens uncared for. He also hit back at critics, saying “dishonorable people” were spreading lies and slander about the government’s actions.
Teams from more than two dozen countries have joined tens of thousands of local emergency personnel in the effort. But the scale of destruction from the quake and its powerful aftershocks was so immense and spread over such a wide area that many people were still awaiting help.
Race against time
Experts said the survival window for those trapped under the rubble or otherwise unable to obtain basic necessities was closing rapidly. At the same time, they said it was too soon to abandon hope.
The first 72 hours are considered to be critical, said Steven Godby, a natural hazards expert at Nottingham Trent University in England. The survival ratio on average within 24 hours is 74%, after 72 hours it is 22% and by the fifth day it is 6%.
(With agency inputs)