ANKARA: At least 20,213 people were killed and 80,052 others injured by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye on Monday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Friday.
The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, affected more than 13 million people across 10 provinces, also including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.
Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, also felt the strong tremors that struck Türkiye in the space of fewer than 10 hours.
Vice President Fuat Oktay said at a news conference in the nation’s capital of Ankara that 67 people were rescued from the rubble in 24 hours.
Oktay added more than 1 million citizens have been hosted in temporary accommodation centers.
Speaking earlier in Adiyaman, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “We experienced one of the greatest natural disasters in our nation’s history.”
The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said in a statement that at least 159,146 search and rescue personnel were working in the field.
It added that 7,716 personnel from foreign countries were also dispatched to the disaster zone.
The Foreign Ministry said a total of 97 countries have offered assistance and that search and rescue teams from 61 nations are currently continuing their efforts in the field.
Evacuations from quake zone continue
A total of 190,000 people have been evacuated from quake-hit regions, said Oktay.
So far, presidential planes have also transported 126 injured people, including 16 infants, to hospitals in the capital Ankara.
More than 141,779 health personnel are currently working in the quake-hit region, health officials have said.
Besides rescue teams, blankets, tents, food, and psychological support teams, along with 12,244 vehicles, including excavators, tractors, and bulldozers, were also sent to affected areas.
A total of 97,973 family tents have been set up to shelter the survivors, the authority said.
Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum said the country will launch the “biggest disaster housing mobilization” in the history of the Republic of Türkiye simultaneously in 10 provinces.
Erdogan pledged to rebuild the quake-hit southern region as part of a one-year plan.
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.
Rescue and relief personnel and materials were directed to the region with 166 aircraft, AFAD said.
Moreover, 77 field hospitals were set up in the 10 provinces.
A total of 26 ships were also assigned to the region for personnel and material shipment and for evacuation.
President Erdogan visiting quake-hit regio
Erdogan on Thursday said the quakes in southern Türkiye can be described as “the disaster of the century,” adding that the state has mobilized all its means to help the victims.
Inspecting the ongoing search, rescue, and relief efforts, Erdogan has so far visited Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Adana, Gaziantep, Osmaniye, Kilis, Adiyaman, and Malatya, where he met with earthquake victims.
The Turkish parliament on Thursday approved a three-month state of emergency to speed up aid efforts.
The country is also observing seven days of national mourning in the wake of the disaster.
Condolences have poured in from around the world expressing solidarity with Türkiye, with many countries sending rescue teams and aid. — AA