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Turkey-Syria Earthquake Death Toll Passes 33,000



Turkey-Syria Earthquake Death Toll Passes 33,000

(CTN News) Six days after one of the largest earthquake to strike Turkey and Syria, rescuers continued to extricate people from the wreckage as Turkish officials worked to restore order around the disaster area and started legal proceedings about certain building collapses.


The death toll in both nations following Monday’s earthquake and subsequent aftershocks went past 33,000 and seemed to keep rising as the likelihood of discovering additional survivors decreased. It was Turkey’s worst earthquake since 1939.

To protect their properties from being plundered, displaced residents in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, close to the epicenter, said they had pitched tents as close as possible to their damaged or destroyed homes.

President Tayyip Erdogan pledged to begin rebuilding within weeks as he faced criticism for his handling of the earthquake as he prepared for a nationwide election that is anticipated to be the most difficult of his two decades in office.

The Syrian calamity struck the rebel-held northwest the hardest, forcing many people who a decade-long civil conflict had already uprooted to flee their homes once again. The region has gotten very little relief compared to places under government control.

From the Turkey-Syria border, where there is just one accessible border crossing for U.N. relief shipments, United Nations assistance director Martin Griffiths tweeted, “We have so far failed the people in north-west Syria.”

Griffiths added, “They properly feel abandoned, and I’m focused on dealing with that quickly.

Emergency personnel continued to find a few survivors in the rubble of houses that had become graves for thousands of people more than six days after the first earthquake hit.

Syrian Malik Milandi, 54, was rescued in the southern Turkish city of Antakya by a group of Chinese and Turkish firemen after he spent 156 hours trapped under the wreckage.

The rarity of such events is due to the steadily rising death toll.

During the unloading of the dead from trucks at a burial close to Reyhanli, veiled women sobbed and pounded their chests as some were placed in closed wood coffins, some in open coffins, while still others were covered in blankets.

According to one Kahramanmaras resident, there weren’t enough burial shrouds left to wrap up his family, so he hasn’t yet laid them to rest. A large truck was loaded to the brim with wooden coffins on a route leading toward the town.


Traffic would intermittently stop along the main route into Antakya as rescue personnel yelled for quiet to look for indications of any lingering life under the rubble. The few buildings that were still intact had significant fissures or caved-in façade.

In the wake of the earthquake, the quality of construction in a nation with several seismic fault lines has been brought to sharp light.

According to Vice President Fuat Oktay, 131 people have been named as having been involved in the collapse of part of the thousands of destroyed structures in the 10 affected provinces.

Particularly for structures that sustained significant damage and buildings that resulted in fatalities and injuries, he stated, “We will follow this up attentively until the relevant legal procedure is finished.”

Erdogan is set to run in presidential and legislative elections in June when the earthquake occurs. His popularity had dwindled even before the tragedy due to rising inflation and a weak Turkish currency.

Some people impacted by the earthquake and opposition lawmakers have accused the administration of bungling early relief efforts, and detractors have questioned why the army, which was crucial after an earthquake in 1999, was not called in sooner.

Erdogan recognized issues, such as the difficulty of providing supplies despite broken transport connections, but said everything was under control. He has urged unity and denounced “negative” politics.

He has also issued a warning that looters would face harsh punishment. Eight army trucks were in convoy being driven by police among the relief vans traveling to Kahramanmaras.

Rescuer Gizem from the province of Sanliurfa in southeastern Turkey claimed to have seen looters in Antakya. Since most looters are armed with knives, we cannot act.

While police were stationed at intersections of commercial avenues with several phone and jewelry stores in the port city of Iskenderun, an elderly citizen of Kahramanmaras said that gold jewelry in his house had been taken.

Due to reports of conflicts between different groups of people and worries about security in the earthquake-affected regions, two German relief organizations ceased operations in Turkey on Saturday.


In Syria, the conflicts that have torn the nation apart during a 12-year civil war are now impeding rescue efforts.

According to a U.N. spokeswoman, permission problems with the Islamist organization Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which controls much of the province, have slowed the delivery of earthquake supplies from government-held territories into territory controlled by hardline opposition groups.

According to an HTS source in Idlib, the group would not let any supplies from regions under the control of the government, and that assistance would be arriving through Turkey to the north.

The insider stated, “We won’t let the regime take advantage of the situation to demonstrate they are aiding. Turkey has opened all the highways.”

According to spokesman Jens Laerke, the U.N. wants to increase cross-border operations by allowing aid supplies at two more border crossing locations between Turkey and Syria controlled by the opposition.

In the first high-level visit by an Arab official since the earthquake, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, an ally of the United States, met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday.

In the wake of the earthquake, Assad has received backing from some Arab nations. Major donors to U.N. assistance operations in Syria include Western nations, which attempted to isolate Assad following his crackdown on protesters in 2011 and the start of a civil war, but they haven’t given Damascus much in the way of direct help.

On Sunday, the first shipment of earthquake relief supplies from Europe to Syria’s government-held areas reached Damascus.

To assess the damage and launch a United Nations appeal for Syria, U.N. relief head Griffiths will go to Aleppo in northern Syria on Monday. He hopes that this will encompass both government and non-government zones of control.

The earthquake’s death toll surpasses a nearby earthquake in Iran in 2003, which caused 31,000 fatalities, making it the sixth worst natural catastrophe in history.

More than 3,500 people have died in Syria, where the death toll has not been updated in two days, while 29,605 people have died in Turkey.

Turkey said that over 1 million people were housed in temporary shelters and that 80,000 individuals were in hospitals.

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Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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