Skip to main content

Earthquake death toll nears 20,000 as Turkey, Syria seek help

Hundreds of thousands more are injured or displaced as rescue workers race against time to free those who are trapped.
Syrians, displaced as a result of the deadly earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria two days ago, arrive to an open area on the outskirts of the rebel-held town of Jindayris on February 8, 2023. - A leading United Nations official called for the facilitation of aid access to rebel-held areas in Syria's northwest, warning that relief stocks will soon be depleted. Rebel-held areas near Turkey's border -- hard hit by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck on Monday -- cannot receive aid from government-held pa

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.  

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%. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Turkey Briefing Turkey Briefing

Turkey Briefing

Top Turkey stories in your inbox each week

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial