Turkey-Syria earthquakes death toll 'rises to 3,000' as desperate search for survivors continues

6 February 2023, 06:24 | Updated: 6 February 2023, 19:40

The massive earthquake has killed hundreds and levelled buildings
The massive earthquake has killed hundreds and levelled buildings. Picture: Getty/Twitter

By Will Taylor

It's thought 3,000 people have died after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, before a second tremor hit 12 hours later.

Rescue workers joined residents in trying to find survivors in the rubble of destroyed buildings in cities either side of the two countries' border.

1,762 of these have been reported in Turkey.

Upwards of 700 people are thought to have lost their lives in opposition-held Syria, with another 538 killed in government-held parts of the country.

The scramble to save anybody buried in rubble and get help to the wounded came as a second earthquake hit, measuring 7.5.

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Earlier, Turkey's president Recep Erdogan described it as the worst disaster in the country for almost 100 years.

"Tonight at 04:17, we were shaken by the biggest disaster since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake that we underwent in the last century," he said.

The earthquake was so powerful it was felt as far away as Cairo. It was centred north of Gaziantep, a Turkish city about 60 miles away from Syria.

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One of the aftershocks registered at 6.7.

National leaders vowed to help Turkey recover as they described their shock at the devastation, with Ankara opening up an air corridor to the devastated region.

The UK announced it was sending 76 search and rescue specialists, four search dogs and rescue equipment to arrive on Monday evening. The UK is also sending an emergency medical team to assess the situation on the ground.

The foreign secretary James Cleverly tweeted: "The UK is sending immediate support to Türkiye including a team of 76 search & rescue specialists, equipment and rescue dogs.

"In Syria, the UK-funded White Helmets have mobilised their resources to respond.

"We stand ready to provide further support as needed.

Rishi Sunak said: "My thoughts are with the people of Türkiye and Syria this morning, particularly with those first responders working so valiantly to save those trapped by the earthquake.

"The UK stands ready to help in whatever way we can."

Former Premier League footballer, Christian Atsu, is among those trapped beneath the rubble after the Ghanian international made his debut for Turkish team Hatayspor on Sunday night.

Read more: Former Premier League star 'trapped under rubble' after earthquake in Turkey

A massive earthquake left hundreds dead
A massive earthquake left hundreds dead. Picture: Getty

French president Emmanuel Macron said: "Terrible images come to us from Turkey and Syria after an earthquake of unprecedented force.

"France stands ready to provide emergency aid to the populations on the spot. Our thoughts are with the bereaved families."

German chancellor Olaf Scholz: "We are following the news of the earthquake in the Turkish-Syrian border region with shock," Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, said on Twitter. Germany will of course send help."

The European Union deployed aid workers and Poland has sent dozens of firefighters and some rescue dogs.

The epicentre was north of Gaziantep
The epicentre was north of Gaziantep. Picture: US Geological Survey
Buildings on both sides of the Turkish-Syria border collapsed
Buildings on both sides of the Turkish-Syria border collapsed. Picture: Getty

In Malatya province, not far from the epicentre, 130 buildings were reported to have collapsed earlier. Rescuers in the city of Diyarbakir were seen calling for silence as they listened for survivors in a destroyed 11-storey building, one of 15 known to have fallen there.

The Turkish Red Crescent has issued a plea for blood donations.

Buildings were also toppled in Aleppo and Hama in Syria, while buildings shook in Damascus. Emergency rooms are packed out in the rebel-held regions there.

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Rescuers are scrambling to save anyone trapped under rubble
Rescuers are scrambling to save anyone trapped under rubble. Picture: Ge

The area on both sides of the border is home to millions of displaced Syrians as a result of the long-running civil war, many living in squalid conditions already.

Millions will be forced to sleep outside of their destroyed homes after the earthquake ruined their homes, with temperatures having plunged to around zero.

President Erdogan said: "We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage."

The earthquake measured some 11 miles deep, according to the US Geological Survey. Major fault lines that often trigger earthquakes run through Turkey.

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