Earthquake Death Toll Passes 8,700 as Turkey Experiences 285 Aftershocks, 13.5 Million People Reportedly Affected

Earthquake Death Toll Passes 8,700 as Turkey Experiences 285 Aftershocks, 13.5 Million People Reportedly Affected
People and rescue teams try to reach trapped residents inside collapsed buildings in Adana, Turkey, on Feb. 6, 2023. (IHA agency via AP)
Naveen Athrappully

The death toll from the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have exceeded 8,700, with thousands more injured, infrastructure crumbling, and rescue groups struggling to bring aid to the victims.

In Turkey, at least 6,234 people are confirmed dead. The Syrian government along with a rescue team operating in the opposition-held northwest region reported at least 2,500 deaths in the country, with the government controlled-provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Tartous, Latakia, and Hama accounting for over 800 deaths, and the northwest accounting for more than 1,280. Combined, at least 8,734 people have died in Turkey and Syria.

In total, at least 3,749 people are estimated to have been injured in Syria. Turkey’s injured are estimated to be over 30,000. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the death toll could rise to around 20,000 in the coming days.

The first quake, with an epicenter in the Pazarcik district of Turkey’s southern Kahramanmaras Province, had a magnitude of 7.8. A second quake of 7.6 magnitude hit the same region nine hours later, worsening the situation. Turkey experienced 285 aftershocks.

Approximately 13.5 million people were affected in Turkey, according to authorities. The impacted area spans roughly 280 miles from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east.

U.S. President Joe Biden “noted that U.S. teams are deploying quickly to support Turkish search and rescue efforts and coordinate other assistance that may be required by people affected by the earthquakes, including health services or basic relief items,” a readout of Biden’s conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Jan. 6 said.

Infrastructure Damage

The earthquakes have caused widespread devastation in Turkey. A video shared on Twitter shows innumerable buildings turned to rubble, with only a few tall buildings still standing. Another video shows a building crashing down while people run for safety.

In Turkey’s southern region, which is home to some of the worst-hit cities, damaged roads and poor internet connections are hampering rescue attempts. In some places, freezing winter weather is also posing a challenge. Families were forced to sleep in cars lined up in the streets.

In Kahramanmaras, families wrapped themselves in blankets and gathered around fires to keep themselves warm. The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) is said to have deployed 13,740 search and rescue personnel as well as over 300,000 blankets, 100,000 beds, and 41,000 tents to the region. According to Organ Tatar, an official from AFAD, 5,775 buildings have been destroyed by the quake.

“The infrastructure is damaged, the roads that we used to use for humanitarian work are damaged, we have to be creative in how to get to the people …  but we are working hard,” U.N. resident coordinator El-Mostafa Benlamlih told Reuters.
The earthquake on Monday is Turkey’s deadliest since a quake of similar magnitude hit the country in 1999 and killed over 17,000 people.

International Aid Response

In addition to the United States, the European Union is sending teams for search and rescue operations in Turkey. Similar teams are also being sent from the Netherlands, UK, and Romania. Israel, Germany, and France have also pledged help.

“#LACoFD USA-2 has been activated by @usaid and is deploying to the Turkey earthquake. The deployment team will consist of 81 personnel, 6 K9 teams, and 3 structural engineers,” the L.A. County Fire Department said in a Feb. 7 Twitter post.

Iran has sent medicines, food, and tents to Syria. Russia’s military personnel are helping in recovery efforts in northern Syria with both nations being allies of the Damascus regime.

India has dispatched a 99-member medical team equipped with X-ray machines, an oxygen generation plant, and cardiac monitors to set up a 30-bed medical facility. China has announced 40 million yuan ($5.9 million) in emergency aid.

The WHO is dispatching medical supplies, including emergency surgical and trauma kits, as well as activating a network of medical teams. The agency expressed concern about areas in Syria and Turkey from where no information has emerged since the earthquake.

Naveen Athrappully is a news reporter covering business and world events at The Epoch Times.
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