ANKARA — The death toll in Syria and Turkey from the earthquake is nearing 20,000, with the number of injured exceeding 100,000, while hundreds of thousands have been displaced.
In Turkey, at least 15,546 have been killed and more than 60,000 people have been injured, authorities said on Thursday.
The death toll in Syria stands at more than 3,000, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while Syrian state media reported that more than 298,000 people have been displaced.
International and local rescuers across southern Turkey and northern Syria are racing against time to reach survivors trapped under the rubble. The earthquakes early Monday morning led to colossal destruction in both countries. Turkish authorities put the number of collapsed buildings at nearly 7,000, but the figure is expected to rise.
More than 20 countries, including the United States and several Middle Eastern and North African countries, dispatched aid as well as search and rescue teams to Turkey right after the quakes. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the disaster zone Wednesday, where public anger over the government response is growing.
Pulling a two-month-old baby alive after three days under the rubble in Turkey.#TurkeySyriaEarthquake— Nilofar Ayoubi (@NilofarAyoubi) February 8, 2023
The Pentagon on Wednesday ordered the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean to head toward Turkey in case Ankara requests additional support.
Pentagon Press Secretary US Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters, “US European Command right now is prepositioning some assets, to include medical supplies, water, relief supplies. We’re trying to do everything we can to lean forward, be responsive to their requests and help them as they try to save lives."
In Syria, getting aid into the country has proven to be a challenge. There is only one border crossing through which international aid can enter war-torn rebel territory in the north, where much of the damage occurred. The roads leading to the earthquake-hit Syrian towns have also been damaged. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday that efforts are underway to open two other border crossings into north Syria for the flow of the aid.
Syria has received less international support following the disaster, in part due to international concerns about coordinating with the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Russia, Algeria and neighboring Lebanon have dispatched teams to Syria, however, while Gulf states also promised aid.
The Turkish government restricted access to Twitter on Wednesday, prompting a wide outcry as many Turks were using the social media site for information about the disaster. By Tuesday 4:00 a.m. Ankara time, Netblocks, the internet monitoring site, reported that Twitter access was restored.
”The restoration comes after authorities held a meeting with Twitter to ‘remind Twitter of its obligations’ on content takedowns and disinformation,” Netblocks reported.
The country's stock exchange suspended trading on Wednesday after its main index fell 7%.