death toll in Turkey and Syria; strong aftershocks
The death toll topped 2,300 and was rising on Monday after a powerful pre-dawn earthquake and a series of strong aftershocks collapsed thousands of buildings along the Turkish-Syrian border.
The US Geological Survey said the 7.8 magnitude quake occurred at 4:17 a.m. local time. Dozens of aftershocks followed, authorities said. A few hours later, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck more than 60 miles away.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the death toll had risen to nearly 1,500, with at least 8,500 injured in his country alone.
In Syria, the death toll in government-controlled areas has exceeded 430 and 1,280 have been injured, the Syrian Health Ministry reported. In rebel-held areas, more than 380 people were killed, according to the Syrian Civil Defense – the White Helmets.
Hundreds of people are believed to be trapped under the rubble, and the toll is expected to rise as rescuers dig into the wreckage. Thousands of survivors were left homeless in the cold rain and snow.
There were also rescue stories as first responders and volunteers, some with detection dogs picked up from the rubble, others with detection dogs. Turkey’s Defense Ministry released a video of a mother and her 2-year-old child being safely extracted from the rubble of the city of Gaziantep.
“Please hurry, because my daughter is fainting,” the woman says as rescuers work feverishly to save her. The young girl is rescued first, and responders assure the woman that “your child has been rescued, she is alive”. A few minutes later, the woman is taken to safety.
►Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his country “stands ready to send a large group of relief workers to Turkey to help respond to the crisis”.
►Erdogan called the quake the biggest disaster since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake which killed more than 30,000 people. The region sits atop major fault lines and around 18,000 people were killed in the earthquakes that struck northwestern Turkey in 1999.
► Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority said at least 78 aftershocks followed the quake.
►Russia says it is preparing rescue teams to go to Turkey to help earthquake victims there and in neighboring Syria.
DEADLY QUAKE:More than 1,300 dead after powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake near Turkey-Syria border
An earthquake hits an area already torn by civil war
The quake hit a region that has been battered on both sides of the border by more than a decade of civil war in Syria. On the Syrian side, the region is divided between government-controlled territory and the country’s last opposition-controlled enclave, which is surrounded by Russian-backed government forces. Turkey is home to millions of refugees from this conflict.
Around 4 million people live in opposition-held areas in Syria, many of whom have been displaced from other parts of the country by the fighting. Many residential buildings were already unsafe due to bombing.
TRAGEDY IN TURKEY:Photos capture the devastating aftermath of a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Thousands of people pulled from the toppled buildings
Thousands of buildings have collapsed from the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Hama to Diyarbakir in Turkey, more than 200 miles northeast. Erdogan said he spoke with several mayors who reported nearly 3,000 buildings had collapsed. About 2,500 people were pulled from the rubble, he said. Schools in much of the country will be closed for at least a week and schools closer to the quake for two weeks, officials said.
Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoglu said all national sports organizations to be held in Turkey have been suspended until further notice.
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Biden offers help as rescuers search for survivors
More than 9,000 people were carrying out search and rescue operations in Turkey and more support from other regions was on the way, Erdogan said.
“We started to be contacted for international help,” he said. “In addition to offers of assistance from NATO and the EU, 45 countries have reached out to us.”
The Biden administration issued a statement expressing concern, adding that “we stand ready to provide all necessary assistance.” President Joe Biden has asked USAID and other federal government agencies to “evaluate American response options to help those most affected,” coordinating efforts with the Turkish government.
Seismic zone map
Trapped survivors call for help
Huseyin Yayman, a lawmaker in Turkey’s Hatay province, said several of his family members were trapped under the rubble of their collapsed homes.
“There are so many other people who are also trapped,” he told HaberTurk TV by phone. “There are so many buildings that have been damaged. People are in the street. It’s raining, it’s winter.
In Turkey, student Muhammet Fatih Yavus said three buildings fell near his home in Adana. He said he heard a survivor cry out from under the rubble: “I don’t have the strength anymore.”
Earthquake felt in Egypt and Lebanon
In Damascus, buildings shook and residents ran into the streets. The earthquake rocked residents of Lebanon from their beds, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many Beirut residents have left their homes, driving their cars away from buildings, terrorized by memories of the 2020 port explosion that destroyed much of the city.
EU Council President pledges support
Condolences and offers of help poured in from world leaders.
“Deeply saddened to learn this morning of the devastating earthquake that struck parts of Turkey and Syria. My deepest condolences to the many families who lost their lives and wish a speedy recovery to those injured,” said the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, on Twitter. “The EU stands in full solidarity with you.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted: “My thoughts this morning are with the people of Türkiye and Syria, especially the first responders who are working so valiantly to save those trapped by the earthquake. The UK is ready to help in any way possible.”
Turkey creates ‘air aid corridor’ to fly rescuers to region
National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said a large number of military transport planes had started sending search and rescue teams and vehicles to the area. Ambulance jets are also participating in the “air aid corridor”, Akar said.
“We have maximized the readiness of our aircraft to provide the necessary transportation service,” he said.
Contributor: The Associated Press