Over 29,600 dead from powerful earthquakes in southern Türkiye

ANKARA : At least 29,605 people were killed by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye earlier this week, the country’s disaster agency said on Sunday.

Last Monday’s 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 less than 10 hours.

More than 233,000 search and rescue personnel are currently working in the field, according to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

Almost 148,000 people have been evacuated from quake-hit regions so far, AFAD said.

Over 2,500 personnel and 384 vehicles have been dispatched to the region for psychosocial support services, according to the disaster agency.

Citing Foreign Ministry data, the disaster agency said 9,369 foreign aid workers were dispatched to the disaster zone.

Türkiye sets up ‘giant’ hospital ship

After the initial earthquake, hospital ships were created by the Turkish Navy to aid victims in the region.

Speaking to reporters, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Sunday said the Turkish Navy’s TCG Bayraktar and TCB Sancaktar continue to accept patients.

“We have provided health services (via hospital ships) to 421 people so far, and continue to do so,” he added.

The TCG Iskenderun has evacuated total of 545 people, including 328 of them injured in the quakes, according to Akar.

Akar noted that a total of 24 ships and five helicopters in the Gulf of Iskenderun are actively doing personnel and material shipments as well as evacuation.

Separately, an air aid corridor was also created by the Turkish Armed Forces to deliver search and rescue teams to the region immediately after the deadly disaster.

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.

He also said over 1,000 buildings have collapsed in Adiyaman while 1,158 others are severely damaged.

Late Sunday, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay held a press briefing announcing that services from 3 major Turkish telecommunications providers will be free for a month starting from the day of the quakes, but did not say if this was only in the earthquake zones or over a wider area.

On children found unaccompanied due to the quakes, Oktay said 503 of 574 children have been identified, as efforts to identify the remaining 72 children continue.

3 times stronger than 1999 earthquake

The powerful twin earthquakes which hit southern Türkiye earlier this week were three times stronger than the major 1999 Marmara earthquake in the country’s northwest, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.

In earlier remarks on Friday, Erdogan said the history of Türkiye is being challenged by one of its biggest disasters, referring to the quakes in the country’s southern provinces.

Also on Thursday, Erdogan said the state has mobilized all its means to help the victims.

To inspect the ongoing search, rescue, and relief efforts, Erdogan has so far visited Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Adana, Gaziantep, Osmaniye, Kilis, Adiyaman, and Malatya, where he met earthquake victims.

He visited other quake-hit southern provinces of Diyarbakir and Sanliurfa on Saturday.

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

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