Istanbul, Feb 09, 2023: The death toll from the catastrophic earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria rose to more than 15,000 as more bodies were pulled from the rubble of collapsed homes in the stricken zone, Turkey’s disaster management agency said February 9.
The agency said 12,391 people had been confirmed killed in Turkey after February 6th’s early morning earthquake and series of aftershocks, which brought down thousands of buildings in southeastern Turkey.
On the other side of the border in Syria, another 2,902 people have been reported to have been killed.
Rescue workers continued to pull living people from the damaged homes but hope was starting to fade amid freezing temperatures more than three full days since the quake hit.
With the confirmed death toll approaching 12,000, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the especially hard-hit Hatay province, where more than 3,300 people died and entire neighborhoods were destroyed. Residents there have criticized the government’s efforts, saying rescuers were slow to arrive.
“It is not possible to be prepared for such a disaster," Mr. Erdogan said. “We will not leave any of our citizens uncared for.” He also hit back at critics, saying "dishonorable people" were spreading “lies and slander” about the government’s actions.
Meanwhile, rescue teams in Turkey and Syria searched for signs of life in the rubble. Teams from more than two dozen countries have joined tens of thousands of local emergency personnel in the effort. But the scale of destruction from the quake and its powerful aftershocks was so immense and spread over such a wide area that many people were still awaiting help.