More than 33,000 people are dead after massive earthquakes rocked Turkey and Syria last week, according to the latest estimates.
Officials in Turkey reported 29,605 deaths as of Sunday afternoon, while the total in Syria stood at 3,553, though the Associated Press noted the numbers from government-held parts of the country have not been updated in days.
The numbers keep rising as crews dig through the rubble of buildings that collapsed when 7.8-magnitude and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria early last week. Those who survived continue to face hardship, in part because of the need for food and shelter as temperatures drop below the freezing mark.
▶️ Drone footage taken Feb. 11, 2023, shows the extent of the damage in Kahramanmaras.
👉Survivors Still Being Found as Quake Death Toll Tops 25,000 https://t.co/I1t9wYSElg pic.twitter.com/c1lqXhD5vO
— Voice of America (@VOANews) February 11, 2023
Not all the news has been grim, as there have been reports showing that even days following the tremors, people are being found alive. Among these bright spots, according to NBC News, was a mother and child being found rescued after more than 150 hours. Pets, too, have been saved.
Rescue workers save various animals trapped under the rubble in Turkey after deadly earthquakes hit pic.twitter.com/NaMcfHJlpj
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 9, 2023
A civil war in Syria that has lasted more than a decade and displaced millions of people has complicated the rescue situation.
United Nations Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths said the world has “failed” the people in northwest Syria.
“They rightly feel abandoned,” he tweeted from the Turkey-Syria border. “Looking for international help that hasn’t arrived. My duty and our obligation is to correct this failure as fast as we can. That’s my focus now.”
Animated map of seismicity near Turkey quakes starting ~3am local time plotting Feb 6 M7.8 mainshock (pink), early aftershocks (orange), M7.5 aftershock to the north (tan), and subsequent aftershocks in the north (tan). Time vs. magnitude progression shown on bottom graph. pic.twitter.com/TTa7qdZWzO
— USGS Earthquakes (@USGS_Quakes) February 7, 2023
The region is situated on major fault lines and experiences frequent earthquakes, but the latest tremors are proving to be historic in terms of deaths and destruction.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who declared seven days of national mourning, previously said his country had been shaken by its “biggest disaster” since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake, which killed more than 30,000 people. Facing rising criticism over the nation’s early response to the disaster, Erdogan also conceded “shortcomings.”
By Sunday, Turkish officials said they issued 113 arrest warrants in connection to buildings that collapsed, and 12 people, including contractors, have already been detained, according to the BBC.
Assistance has been pouring in from around the world.
President Joe Biden said his administration authorized an “immediate” response.
“The United Nations is fully committed to supporting the response. Our teams are on the ground assessing the needs and providing assistance,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement.