Death toll passes 5,000: Rescuers pull thousands of bodies and survivors from rubble of Türkiye-Syria quake

Death toll passes 5,000: Rescuers pull thousands of bodies and survivors from rubble of Türkiye-Syria quake

Death toll passes 5,000: Rescuers pull thousands of bodies and survivors from rubble of Türkiye-Syria quake

Written by Niresh Eliatamby

07 Feb, 2023 | 5:09 am

Colombo (News 1st) – Exhausted rescue workers toiling all night have managed to pull thousands of survivors from beneath the wreckage of a dozen shattered cities across southern Türkiye and northern Syria, but have also recovered thousands of bodies, as the death toll from Monday's series of earthquakes climbed to over 5,000, with another 23,000 injured.

World Health Organisation (WHO) officials warned that the death toll could rise as much as eight times within the next week as bodies are pulled from the rubble.

"We always see the same thing with earthquakes, unfortunately, which is that the initial reports of the numbers of people who have died or who have been injured will increase quite significantly in the week that follows," the WHO's senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, told AFP.

Türkiye has so far counted 3,400 dead and 14,483 injured, while neighboring Syria reports 1,600 dead and 3,411 injured. Many people spent Monday night huddled in makeshift shelters, but were forced to run out into the streets repeatedly as aftershocks continued to jolt the region. Türkiye's government has declared seven days of mourning.

Rescue teams from more than a dozen countries with specialized equipment and rescue dogs are set to join thousands of rescuers on Tuesday to continue the grim mission of digging through the rubble of collapsed apartment blocks. So far 45 countries have offered support. The Turkish Red Crescent made an urgent appeal for citizens to donate blood and hospitals have been overwhelmed by the number of injured.

More than 3,000 buildings came crashing to the ground when the 7.8 magnitude quake hit whilst almost everyone was asleep at 4:17 a.m. on Monday.

Turkish President Recip Erdogan's issued an immediate plea for urgent assistance. In neighboring Syria, the government has also called for help, but it is not clear how far international rescue teams will venture into that country's northern warzones. Much of the devastation in Syria is in areas not under the control of the government. Rescue teams in both countries have been hampered by damage to power supplies.

Freezing temperatures and snowstorms were hampering rescue efforts in some areas of Turkey. The threat of aftershocks is also very real, with more than 120 being felt throughout the day, one a huge tremor of 7.5 magnitude.

This is the largest quake in the region in more than 100 years and was felt in at least a dozen countries, with buildings shaking as far away as Romania, Iraq, and Egypt. The epicenter was 25 km west of the Turkish city of Gaziantep near the border with Syria

Turkey reported deaths across ten cities in seven provinces while Syria reported deaths in three provinces. Hundreds of buildings have collapsed and a large number of fires hampered early rescuers as they dug through the rubble in the grim hope of finding trapped survivors.

The quake occurred at a triple juncture of three of the Earth's tectonic plates – the Anatolian, Arabian and African. It took place 17.9km below the surface of the Earth, along a line 190km long and 25km wide, according to data from the United States Geological Survey. The second large quake of the day in the region occurred 10km below the surface along a line 120km long and 18km wide, according to the USGS.

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