At least 16,170 died from earthquakes in Southern Turkey: Erdogan

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centred in the Kahramanmaras province, were felt on Monday by 13 million people across 10 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, felt strong tremors that struck Türkiye in the space of less than 10 hours, reported Anadolu Agency.

“The earthquake affected an area of ​​approximately 110,000 square kilometres (about 42,470 sq miles). This is equal to or greater than the area of ​​many countries in Europe.

“This earthquake is the third-largest to occur since the 1668 Great Anatolia earthquake and the 1939 Erzincan earthquake in the last 2,000 years on the Anatolian geography,” Vice President Fuat Oktay said at the country’s parliament.

Turkish parliament speaker Mustafa Sentop called on lawmakers to make donations worth at least one month’s wage to the country’s disaster management agency, adding that he had donated three monthly wages.

During a visit to the southern Gaziantep province, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “Our state has been on the field with all its institutions starting from the moment of the earthquake.”

More than 115,680 search and rescue personnel are currently working in the field, according to the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

A total of 28,044 people were evacuated from quake-hit regions, AFAD said in a statement.

“As of 11.38 am (0838GMT), a total of 28,044 citizens were evacuated from the disaster area, 4,607 by road and railway and 23,437 by air,” it said.

Evacuees are being placed in accommodation areas and guesthouses designated by provincial governors’ offices and AFAD, it added.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said 95 countries and 16 international organisations offered to send Türkiye assistance, with many nations sending search and rescue teams, doctors, field hospitals, and aid materials to the quake-hit region.

Speaking in the capital Ankara, Cavusoglu said 6,479 personnel from 56 countries were currently in the field. “Teams from 19 more countries will be in our country within 24 hours,” he added at the news conference alongside Tahsin Ertugruloglu, his counterpart from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

For his part, Ertugruloglu said every Turkish Cypriot’s heart beats with Türkiye.

Besides rescue teams, blankets, tents, food, and psychological support teams were also sent to affected areas.

A total of 92,738 family tents have been set up to shelter survivors, AFAD said.

It added that 10,363 vehicles, including excavators, tractors, and dozers, were sent to the disaster area.

Teams in Sanliurfa and Kilis completed their search operations and have been dispatched to other provinces, AFAD said.

Erdogan on Wednesday inspected the ongoing search and rescue, as well as relief efforts in the Adana, Hatay, and Kahramanmaras provinces, as well as one of the epicentres Pazarcik, where he met survivors in tent cities.

First lady Emine Erdogan on Wednesday visited 16 infant survivors who were airlifted from Kahramanmaras to a hospital in the capital Ankara.

Türkiye has mobilised all its resources for post-quake efforts, President Erdogan said, adding: “The state is working with municipalities, especially with the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), with all its resources.”

To speed up search and rescue operations more, Türkiye on Tuesday announced a three-month state of emergency in the quake-hit provinces.

In addition, Türkiye is observing seven days of national mourning after the devastating quakes.

All national sports events in the country have been suspended until further notice. Schools nationwide will be closed until Feb 13, and education in the 10 affected provinces is on hold until Feb 20.

Condolences have poured in from around the world expressing solidarity with Türkiye, with many countries sending rescue teams and aid.

After the initial earthquake, an air aid corridor was created by the Turkish Armed Forces to deliver search and rescue teams to the region.

A large number of aircraft for transport, including A-400Ms, carried search and rescue teams and vehicles to the region. Ambulance planes are also using the air aid corridor.

Nearly 19,000 Turkish soldiers also rushed to the aid of people in the field, the National Defence Ministry said in a statement.

All barracks, including the 2nd Army Command in Malatya, were opened to the service of citizens affected by the earthquakes.

Rescue and relief personnel and materials were dispatched to the region with 160 aircraft, AFAD said.

In addition, the flights of two Akinci drones are being used to coordinate work in disaster areas.

A total of 22 ships were also assigned to the region for personnel and material shipment and for evacuation. -BERNAMA

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