Over 14,000 died from powerful earthquakes in southern Türkiye

ANKARA – At least 14,014 people were killed and 63,794 others were injured by two strong earthquakes which jolted southern Türkiye on Monday, the country’s disaster agency said on Thursday.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, were felt by 13 million people across 10 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, felt strong tremors that struck Türkiye in between 10 hours.

More than 113,200 search and rescue personnel are currently working in the field, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said in a statement. A total of 28,044 people were evacuated from quake-hit regions, AFAD added.

“As of 11:38 a.m. (0838GMT), a total of 28,044 citizens were evacuated from the disaster area, 4,607 by road and railway and 23,437 by air,” and evacuees are being placed in accommodation areas and guesthouses designated by provincial governor’s offices and AFAD, it said.

 “As a result of negotiations with the Turkish Foreign Ministry, 5,709 personnel coming from other countries to give help were dispatched to the disaster area,” it added.

Besides rescue teams, blankets, tents, food and psychological support teams were also sent to affected areas. A total of 92,738 family tents were set up to shelter survivors, AFAD also said, adding that 5,557 vehicles, including excavators, tractors and dozers, were sent to the disaster area.

 Meanwhile, the team in Sanliurfa completed search and rescue efforts, and they were dispatched to other provinces where the work continues, AFAD said.

 State of emergency declared

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday inspected the ongoing search and rescue, as well as relief efforts in the Adana, Hatay and Kahramanmaras provinces, as well as one of the epicenters Pazarcik, where he met survivors in tent cities.

First Lady Emine Erdogan on Wednesday visited 16 infant survivors who had been airlifted from Kahramanmaras to a hospital in the capital Ankara.

Türkiye has mobilized all its resources for post-quake efforts, President Erdogan said, adding: “The state is working with municipalities, especially with the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), with all its resources.”

To speed up search and rescue operations more, Türkiye on Tuesday announced a three-month state of emergency in the quake-hit provinces. In addition, Türkiye is observing seven days of national mourning after the devastating quakes.

All national sports events in the country have been suspended until further notice. Schools nationwide will be closed until Feb. 13, and education in the 10 affected provinces is on hold until Feb. 20.

After the quakes, condolences poured in from around the world expressing solidarity with Türkiye, with many countries sending rescue teams and aid.

Türkiye sets up air corridor

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.

Nearly 19,000 Turkish soldiers also rushed to the aid of people in the field, the National Defense Ministry said in a statement. All barracks, including the 2nd Army Command in Malatya, were opened to the service of citizens affected by the earthquakes.

Rescue and relief personnel and materials were dispatched to the region with 160 aircraft, AFAD said. In addition, the flights of two Akinci drones are being used to coordinate work in disaster areas. 

A total of 22 ships were also assigned to the region for personnel and material shipment and for evacuation. (Anadolu)