More than 19K now reported dead in Turkey, Syria earthquake

AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki
Syrian Civil Defense workers and security forces search through the wreckage of collapsed buildings in Aleppo, Syria, on Feb. 6, 2023. A powerful earthquake rocked wide swaths of Turkey and Syria, killing and injuring thousands of people.

More than 19,000 people have now been reported dead following the massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on Monday with the death toll continuing to rise. 

Rescue workers did save additional people from the rubble on Thursday, but hope of finding many more still alive drops with each day that passes. The earthquake hit during the early hours of Monday local time, completely leveling buildings and injuring tens of thousands. 

The number of deaths has now topped the death toll of more than 18,400 people from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan’s Fukashima disaster

Major aftershocks have continued near the Turkish-Syrian border in the days following the initial quake. 

Aid from the United Nations arrived on Thursday for the first time since the earthquake struck, as the only crossing point where the U.N. is allowed to travel from Turkey into Syria had been closed to shipments because of damage to the road. 

The road has instead been used for transporting Syrians who died from the quake in Turkey. 

Geir Pedersen, the U.N. special envoy for Syria, said the U.N. will send aid to northern Syria through Turkey and the Syrian capital of Damascus. 

International relief efforts have already been engaged in Syria for years amid the humanitarian crisis resulting from the more than decade-long civil war in the country. Much of the region in northern Syria is controlled by rebel groups, while Damascus is controlled by government forces. 

The World Health Organization has warned that the quake has now caused a “crisis on a crisis” in the war-torn region. 

The Turkish government has received criticism in the past few days that its response to the quake has been too slow. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was scheduled to travel to a few provinces hit hard by the quake on Thursday. 

Earthquakes regularly hit Turkey, and the country has had quakes cause widespread devastation in the past. A 7.4-magnitude quake near Istanbul killed 18,000 people in 1999. 

The majority of confirmed deaths have been in Turkey, with officials saying more than 16,000 had been killed and more than 64,000 were injured. More than 3,000 were killed and more than 5,000 were injured in Syria.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated 1:11 p.m.

Tags death toll Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Syria earthquake Turkey earthquake United Nations

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