23 February 2023

Death toll from Turkey and Syria earthquake tops 47,000

23 February 2023

The death toll from the massive earthquake that hit parts of Turkey and Syria on February 6 continues to rise as more bodies are retrieved from the rubble of demolished buildings.

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake that struck the already battered province of Hatay this week damaged or demolished more buildings, compounding the devastation.

Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu raised the number of fatalities in Turkey from the magnitude 7.8 earthquake to 43,556.

The combined death toll in Turkey and Syria now stands at 47,244.

In an interview with state broadcaster TRT late on Wednesday, Mr Soylu said teams were sifting through two buildings in hard-hit Hatay province in search of further bodies.

Search operations elsewhere have come to an end, he said.

Meanwhile, at least 164,000 buildings have either collapsed or are so damaged that they need to be demolished, said Murat Kurum, Turkey’s minister for the environment and urbanisation.

The local civil defence in north-western Syria, known locally as The White Helmets, said on Thursday that thousands of children and tens of thousands of families have taken shelter in cars and tents “fearing they would face a repeat of the earthquake”.

In government-held Syria, a first plane from Bahrain loaded with aid landed in Damascus.

The Gulf monarchy is among many Arab countries that in recent years have tried to thaw relations with President Bashar Assad, after shunning him in 2011 for his brutal crackdown on protesters.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt, two key US allies in the region, have also delivered aid.

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