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Earthquake deaths pass 11,000 in Turkey, Syria as anger, desperation mount: Live Updates

Desperation is growing in the aftermath of the massive earthquakes that rocked Turkey, Syria and beyond as international rescue efforts pour into the region.
A photograph taken on February 8, 2023 shows tents at a camp set up by the government in the southeastern Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, two days after a strong earthquake struck the region.
Last Updated: 3 months 3 weeks ago

These live updates have now ended.

Ezgi Akin (Istanbul), Adam Lucente (New York City), Amberin Zaman (London), Salim Essaid (Dubai), Rina Bassist (Paris), Jared Szuba and Elizabeth Hagedorn (Washington) contributed to this report.

Efforts are continuing to rescue thousands of people still trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings across Turkey’s southern region since two massive earthquakes struck on Monday. The combined death toll in Turkey and neighboring Syria has exceeded the 11,000 mark and is expected to climb amid harsh weather conditions and what critics charge is a bungled response by the government of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

The Turkish government has declared a state of emergency, mobilizing rescue teams including military servicemen as aid pours in from across the world. Many describe the temblors as the worst natural disaster to affect Turkey in modern times. Social media has been overflowing with pleas for assistance since the first quake struck Kahramanmaras, its epicenter, at 4:17 a.m. local time. 

In neighboring Syria, the situation is even direr. Areas bordering Turkey that are outside the Syrian government's control were among the hardest hit. International aid to those areas is secured via a single border crossing in southern Turkey. Calls are growing for international sanctions on Damascus to be lifted in order to ease the flow of emergency relief to the conflict-wracked country.

Live updates (ET):

2:43 p.m., Feb. 8: Pentagon readies aircraft in Mediterranean to assist Turkey
The Pentagon has ordered the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean to head toward Turkey in case Ankara requests additional support for earthquake recovery efforts.

Pentagon Press Secretary US Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said, “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.”

12:50 p.m., Feb 8: Damaged roads hamper delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria, Turkish FM says

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday’s earthquakes damaged roads in northern Syria, hindering the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrian towns affected by the massive quakes. Cavusoglu added that efforts were underway to open to border crossings.

12:40 p.m., Feb. 8: EU teams save at least Turkish 50 survivors

Search and rescue teams from several EU countries have rescued at least 50 survivors from under the rubble after two massive earthquakes led to a colossal destruction in Turkey’s south, the bloc announced on Twitter.

Feb 8: Turkey restricts Twitter

The Turkish government restricted access to Twitter on Wednesday, prompting a wide outcry. Ezgi Akin reports. 

Feb 8: Earthquake shatters Antakya's tiny Jewish community 

The president of the small Jewish community in Antakya, Saul Cenudioglu, and his wife Fortuna are still missing while many members of the community are fleeing. Rina Bassist reports.

12:16 p.m., Feb 8: IDF planes bring more staff, supplies from Israel

The Israeli air force flew some 230 more people, including serving and reserve IDF officials, to Turkey today along with hundreds of tons of equipment including humanitarian assistance and materials to establish a field hospital.

The facility, hoped to become operational tomorrow, will be the first operating field hospital in the disaster-struck area.

Several Israeli nongovernmental organizations are already at work on the ground.

Feb 8: USAID teams arrive at Incirlik, head to Adiyaman

Two urban search and rescue units dispatched by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) arrived in southeastern Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base today.

The US Air Force delivered USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), which includes some 159 personnel including structural engineers, doctors, logistics officials and search specialists. They brought with them 12 working dogs and 170,000 pounds of equipment including medical supplies, generators, tents, concrete breakers and water purification systems.

US Ambassador to Turkey Jeff Flake was at Incirlik to greet the teams as they arrived Wednesday morning.

The USAID teams “will work in close coordination with Turkish authorities to conduct search and rescue operations in the hardest-hit areas while identifying other priority humanitarian needs,” according to the US embassy in Ankara. DART will begin work in Adiyaman in coordination with Turkish government efforts and international teams on the ground.

“Over the past several years, Türkiye has responded to natural disasters in more than 50 countries on five continents and now the world is returning the favor, with more than 70 countries offering assistance,” Flake said.

10:50 a.m., Feb. 8: Turkish opposition leaders slam internet restrictions

The Turkish government’s restricting access to Twitter has prompted angry reactions from opposition leaders, as the social media platform has been one of the most useful tools in coordinating rescue efforts.
Main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said, “Cries for help will be less heard as a result of this. We know everything you’re trying to hide.”

Iyi (Good) Party leader Meral Aksener also lamented the move, describing it as a “malicious and conscienceless” act.

Turkish news outlets reported that some opposition lawmakers rallied in front of the government’s communications agency BTK, which confirmed the bandwidth throttling.

10:45 a.m., Feb. 8: EU says sanctions on Damascus pose not obstacle to humanitarian aid

European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said that the EU was the primary donor of humanitarian aid for Syria and that EU sanctions on the Syrian government were no obstacle to the delivery of humanitarian aid to the war-torn country. Calls are growing for international sanctions on Damascus to be lifted in order to ease the flow of emergency relief to the war-torn country where the death toll from the earthquakes is swiftly climbing.

The bloc also pledged an additional €6.5 million ($7 million) worth of humanitarian assistance for Turkey and Syria.

10:25 a.m., Feb. 8: Erdogan thanks Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait

Speaking in Hatay, one of the worst-hit Turkish provinces by Monday’s devastating earthquakes, Turkey’s President Erdogan said more than 60 countries extended their support to Turkey, and that search and rescue teams from 18 different countries were currently working on the ground.

Erdogan particularly thanked Azerbaijan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait by name.

10:20 a.m., Feb 8: Turkey’s death toll exceeds 9,000

Turkey’s President Erdogan said that Turkey’s death toll has risen to 9,057 with the number of people injured reaching 52,979. He put the number of collapsed buildings at 6,444.

9:00 a.m., Feb. 8: Turkish government restricts access to Twitter amid public anger

Internet users are having difficulty accessing Twitter in Turkey. Sites that track internet restrictions and bandwidth throttling report that access to the site was restricted. Netblocks said, “Network data confirm the restriction of Twitter on multiple internet providers in Turkey as of Wednesday.”

The restriction came as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has begun his tour of the disaster zone, talking to victims of two killer earthquakes that led to one of the worst destruction in the country’s history. Twitter has been one of the most helpful tools since the Monday’s earthquake with people trapped under the rubble appealing for help using Netblocks. Turkish authorities also confirmed the restriction.

8:56 a.m., Feb. 8: CENTCOM readies options to support Turkish recovery efforts

US Central Command has established an action team “to prepare to surge support to those affected in both Türkiye and Syria,” according to the command’s headquarters in Tampa, Florida.

CENTCOM, which oversees the US military presence in Syria and the Middle East, said it is working with the Pentagon, USAID and US European Command “on options to send support to Türkiye.”

Feb. 8: Erdogan interrupts earthquake victim, saying disaster is 'destiny'

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is visiting Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of Monday’s killer earthquakes, interrupted an earthquake victim, saying what was happening was “destiny.” In a video widely circulated on social media, Erdogan is heard talking to a woman who approached him as he was getting into his car. Erdogan is seen interrupting the woman, saying, “What has happened has happened! This is all destiny.”

Feb. 8 Armenian rescuers arrive in Turkey, Syria

Two separate Armenian teams arrived in Syria and Turkey to help search and rescue efforts after two powerful earthquakes caused major destruction in both countries on Monday.

Garo Paylan, a lawmaker of Armenian descent from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) announced earlier today that the Armenian teams would begin their search and rescue work in Turkey southeastern province of Adiyaman. Turkey and Armenia are currently engaged in talks to reinstate the ties severed in 1993.

Armenian news outlets separately reported Wednesday that another team arrived in Syria’s Aleppo.

8:00 a.m., Feb. 8: Sweden, Finland, Denmark send additional teams to Turkey

The EU announced Wednesday that a technical support team of 12 from Sweden, Finland and Denmark is en route to Turkey in addition to 36 rescue and medical teams that arrived in Turkey earlier today. Finland and Sweden are in negotiations with Turkey over their bids to join NATO in face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Feb. 8: Lebanese delegation in Damascus

The Lebanese government sent a delegation to Damascus to discuss earthquake aid with Syrian officials. Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib led the delegation, according to Lebanese media reports.

Feb 8: Syria death toll rises above 1,200

Syria Health Minister Dr. Hasan al-Ghobash said 1,262 people have died from the earthquake in addition to 2,285 injuries.

6:00 a.m., Feb. 8: Cyprus says Turkey accepts Greek Cypriot quake aid

The Cypriot Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that European officials had informed them that Turkey had accepted their offer to help earthquake efforts. No confirmation has come from Ankara. Greek Cypriot Foreign Ministry spokesperson Demetris Demetriou announced the development on Twitter Wednesday.

Cyprus remains ethnically divided between Turkish and Greek Cypriots since Turkey’s military intervention in 1974 in response to a Greek military coup. Turkey is internationally alone in not acknowledging the island’s Greek-controlled Republic of Cyprus. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, meanwhile, is only recognized by Ankara.

5:50 a.m., Feb 8: Erdogan pledges new homes for quake survivors

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to build new homes for victims of Monday's killer earthquakes which has claimed 8,574 lives in Turkey so far. During his first stop during a tour of the disaster zone Wednesday, Erdogan said 49,133 people had been injured and 6,944 buildings destroyed by the temblors, the most severe to hit the country since 1939. Erdogan said the government would provide temporary accommodation to survivors in hotels in the tourist resorts of Antalya and Alanya, should they agree to go. He warned the media against disseminating false information by "provocateurs."

Turkish prosecutors have launched investigations into at least three journalists since Tuesday over their comments criticizing the government's quake preparedness and disaster response.

5:02 a.m., Feb. 8: Iraqi militia deploys to Syria

Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units have sent engineering, medical, logistical and rescue teams to Aleppo to help with the earthquake recovery, the official Iraqi News Agency reported.

5:00 a.m., Feb. 8: Turkey’s Justice Minister vows to punish slackers

Turkey's Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said Wednesday that the government's priority was to rescue citizens who remain trapped under the rubble. Bozdag cautioned, however, "Those who are neglectful, make mistakes, all will be held to account." His comments came amid growing criticism of the government's inadequate response to Monday's devastating earthquakes.

4:20 a.m., Feb. 8: Syria's White Helmets lose four members 

Syria's fabled civil rescue organization the White Helmets announced Wednesday that four of their members had perished in Monday's massive temblors. The White Helmets are best known for rescuing civilians in the aftermath of aerial attacks by Syrian and Russian government forces in rebel-held northwest Syria.

4:10 a.m., Feb. 8: Help arrives in Hatay

The mayor of Hatay, among the worst affected provinces by Monday's deadly earthquakes, announced that relief materials had finally arrived. Lutfu Savas said distribution of critical supplies, including baby formula would start Wednesday.

4:00 a.m., Feb. 8: Erdogan en route to disaster zone 

Turkey’s President Erdogan is traveling to Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of Monday's killer earthquakes. He is then due to go to Adiyaman, where ruling party lawmaker Yakup Tas, who was trapped under the rubble, died. He is also set to visit other southern provinces that were among the worst affected by both temblors.

3:50 a.m., Feb. 8: Turkey’s death toll exceeds 7,000

Turkey’s disaster agency AFAD announced that Turkey’s death toll has risen to 7,108 with the number of people injured reaching 40,910.

​​3:00 a.m., Feb. 8: Turkey’s stock exchange suspends trading after its main index sinks

Turkey's stock exchange suspended trading on Wednesday after its main index fell 7 percent

4:41 p.m. ET, Feb. 7: Death toll more than 7,800

The death toll in Turkey and Syria from the earthquake has surpassed 7,800, Reuters reported, counting 5,894 deaths in Turkey and more than 1,900 in Syria. 

4:28 p.m. ET, Feb. 7: Kurdistan Region resumes oil exports to Turkey

A spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq said that their oil exports through the Ceyhan oil terminal resumed at 9:45 p.m. local time (1:45 p.m. ET). The KRG had suspended oil exports to Turkey after the earthquake Monday due to safety concerns.

4:10 p.m., Feb 7: Turkey’s death toll exceeds 5,500, more foreign rescuers en route

Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said Turkey’s death toll has risen to 5,894, with the number of people injured reaching 34,810. Rescuers saved some 8,000 people under the rubble, according to him. The vice president added that 2,400 foreign rescue workers are expected to arrive in Turkey by Wednesday, while there are currently more than 16,000 rescuers working across the disaster zone.

2:50 p.m., Feb. 7: Twin babies rescued after 40 hours under rubble

Emergency teams rescued twin babies who were trapped under the rubble in the southern province of Gaziantep, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
In a video Anadolu released, emergency workers at the site are heard hailing the babies as a “miracle.” A rescuer who waits near the debris is heard saying “Take the miracle,” while passing one of the babies to the first responders at the site saying, “Miracle is coming.”

1:00 p.m., Feb. 7: Rescuers from NATO, Sweden, Finland en route to Turkey

NATO announced Tuesday that more than 20 NATO member states and invitees Finland and Sweden would deploy more than 1,400 emergency response personnel to Turkey. The earthquake, which is one of the most destructive disasters the country is facing, came as NATO talks between Turkey, Sweden and Finland for NATO’s Nordic enlargement stalled over Ankara’s reaction to a Quran-burning protest in Sweden last month.

In addition to the NATO teams, two Egyptian planes carrying 26 tons of medical supplies and an Algerian team composed of 86 search and rescue workers also arrived at Adana Airport on Tuesday.

1:40 p.m., Feb. 7: Israeli medical delegation to depart early Wednesday morning for Turkey

The delegation will establish a field hospital, offering medical treatment with advanced equipment brought from Israel. The delegation will include 230 people, comprised of officers from the IDF medical corps and rescue crews from the Home Command alongside civilian doctors, nurses and paramedics.

Feb. 7: Israeli and Iranian aircrafts sit side by side at Turkey’s Gaziantep airport

A plane from the Israeli Sun D’Or charter company carrying an emergency relief team from the United Hatzalah aid organization landed Tuesday afternoon in Turkey and taxied into a parking slot right next to an Iranian plane that also brought humanitarian aid to the earthquake-stricken region. A Qatar air force plane parked on the other side of the Israeli aircraft, offering an unusual picture of Middle Eastern solidarity with Turkey.

1:00 p.m., Feb. 7: Turkey’s death toll rises to 5,434

Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the death toll has risen to 5,434, with the number of people injured reaching 37,571.The country’s southern border province of Hatay has the highest fatalities, according to Koca. The death toll in 11 provinces are as follows:

Hatay 1,647
Kahramanmaras 1,243
Adıyaman 896
Gaziantep 504
Osmaniye 502
Malatya 201
Urfa 127
Diyarbakır 120
Adana 167
Kilis 22
Elazig 5

Feb. 7: UAE offers $100 million in relief for Syria, Turkey

The United Arab Emirates announced a $100 million relief fund for Syria and Turkey on Tuesday. The figures mark the largest foreign pledge so far, according to AFP.

12:30 p.m., Feb. 7: Iran’s Raisi, Ukraine’s Zelenskyy offer condolences to Erdogan

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered their condolences to their Turkish counterpart Erdogan during separate phone calls Tuesday, state-run Anadolu reported.

12:15 p.m., Feb. 7: KRG says Iraqi Kurdish oil has not resumed to Turkey

A KRG spokesperson said oil is still not flowing from Iraqi Kurdistan to export terminals in Turkey's Adana. Lawk Ghafuri said an update as to when the flow would resume would be coming "soon." Turkish authorities halted it as a security measure in the wake of Monday's massive earthquakes. Adana province, where export terminals for the oil are located, was among the areas affected by the quakes. Turkey is the sole outlet for Iraqi Kurdish crude exports.

12:14 p.m., Feb. 7: Armenian prime minister phones Assad

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to offer his condolences for the earthquake, Assad's office said on Twitter. Earlier in the day, Armenia's Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan tweeted that Armenian rescue teams had been deployed to Syria and Turkey.

12:11 p.m., Feb. 7: US ambassador to meet USAID teams Wednesday in southeast Turkey

Washington’s Ambassador to Turkey Jeff Flake announced he would meet with two urban search and rescue teams dispatched from the United States as they arrive in southeastern Turkey on Wednesday morning. The two teams, one from northern Virginia and the other from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, departed Dover Air Force base aboard a US military transport aircraft on Tuesday morning, local time.

Feb. 7: Egypt's Sisi reaches out to Erdogan

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Tuesday to offer condolences and support over the deadly earthquakes that devastated Turkey Monday, Egypt's presidency said in a statement. Erdogan and al-Sisi were bitter enemies until recently over the latter's ouster of the late Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who briefly led Egypt following the 2011 revolution. Over the past year, Turkey has been reaching out to Egypt and Saudi Arabia as it seeks to end its diplomatic isolation in the region.

11:55 a.m., Feb. 7: Ukraine dispatches team to aid Turkey quake victims

Ukraine's ambassador to Ankara, Vasyl Bodnar, announced via Twitter that a 90-member team was heading to Turkey to help "heal the wounds of the Turkish people." Aid to Turkey is continuously flowing, the envoy added.

Turkish drones have played a key role in the defense of Kyiv. Despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's close ties to Russia's Vladimir Putin, Turkey is regarded as a critical ally in Ukraine's efforts to expel Russian forces.

11:50 a.m., Feb 7: Death toll passes 4,500

Turkey’s disaster agency AFAD said Turkey’s death toll has risen to 4,544 with the number of people injured reaching 26,721. Some 5,775 buildings collapsed, according to AFAD.

11:41 a.m., Feb. 7: UNRWA says 6 Palestinian refugees confirmed dead

A Palestinian family of four and two children who attended UNRWA schools near Aleppo are confirmed to be among those killed, according to the agency’s Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. The agency estimates some 56,000 Palestinian refugees have been directly impacted by the earthquake and its aftermath. UNRWA sheltered 700 refugees at its facilities in Aleppo and Latakia yesterday evening.

Lazzarini put out an urgent call on Tuesday for $2.6 million to support UNRWA’s emergency response, which the agency says will enable provisions of food, shelter and other essential services to Palestinian refugees affected by the disaster.

11:37 a.m., Feb. 7: Iraqi Kurdistan Prime Minister Barzani speaks with Turkey’s foreign minister

Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq Masrour Barzani spoke with Turkey’s top diplomat Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone today to express condolences for the loss of life resulting from yesterday’s earthquake.

Barzani “reaffirmed his readiness to provide more assistance for search and rescue operations and relief efforts,” according to a readout of the call provided by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

“Minister Çavuşoğlu thanked Prime Minister Barzani for the deployment of the health resources and aid from the Kurdistan Region,” the statement read.

Feb. 7: Jailed Kurdish opposition leader lambasts government's response

Selahattin Demirtas, the highly popular former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Peoples' Party, took aim at Turkey's "one-man regime" from his prison cell via Twitter. He wrote, "If the one-man regime only came to realize the scope of the disaster 30 hours after it occurred, despite all the information and means available to it, this is a scandal." Demirtas, who has 2.2 million Twitter followers, added, "This demands not just resigning from government but quitting politics altogether." Close to half of the areas affected by Monday's devastating earthquakes have sizable Kurdish populations.

11:17 a.m., Feb. 7: Another quake hits Turkey's Kahramanmaras

Turkey's disaster relief agency AFAD announced that another 5.2 earthquake struck Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of Monday's deadly earthquakes, at 6:48 p.m. local time. The temblor will likely further complicate relief efforts in the region.

Feb. 7: Turkish Security Directorate targets social media users

Turkey's Security Directorate announced that it had established the identities of 135 account holders who allegedly spread "provocative" information concerning Monday's earthquakes. Seven of the individuals were detained and one was arrested, the directorate said. Social media users who are critical of the government are frequently prosecuted in Turkey under draconian laws that limit free expression.

10:55 a.m., Feb. 7: Turkey's Yeni Malatyaspor goalkeeper found dead in Malatya

Ahmet Eyup Turkaslan, goalkeeper for Turkey's premier league Yeni Malatyaspor, was pronounced dead after his body was retrieved from the rubble in Malatya.

10:42 a.m., Feb. 7: Israel to set up field hospital

Israel’s ambassador to Turkey Irit Lillian confirmed that Israel will send a field hospital in the coming hours. The ambassador noted she expects the facility to arrive to Turkey Wednesday morning and become operational in a matter of one or two days. Because of a storm over Israel, it is unclear for the moment whether the flight carrying the hospital will depart from the Ben Gurion international airport or from the IDF air force base Nevatim in the south of the country.

Feb. 7: Turkey's national carrier offers free service to disaster zone

Turkish Airlines announced that all flights to the provinces of Adana, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Kahramanmaras, Malatya, Adiyaman, Gaziantep and Kayseri will be free until Feb. 13.

Feb 7: 6-year-old girl saved by Greek teams

Greek rescuers found a 6-year-old girl alive who was trapped under rubble in Turkey’s southern province of Hatay on Tuesday, according to Turkish and Greek media reports. Videos and images showing rescuers pulling the little girl out from the debris were widely shared on social media, with condolences and well wishes pouring in by Greek social media users. The destructive earthquake offered an off-ramp to the simmering tensions between Ankara and Athens over conflicting territorial claims.

Feb. 7: Iranian aid plane lands in Syria

An Iranian plane carrying aid landed at Damascus' airport early Tuesday morning, Syria's official SANA news agency reported.

9 a.m., Feb. 7: Two journalists under investigation over earthquake comments

An Istanbul prosecutor launched an investigation into two prominent journalists, Enver Aysever and Merdan Yanardag, over their comments criticizing the government’s earthquake preparedness. The prosecutor has accused both journalists of “openly inciting the people to hatred and enmity,” Turkey’s private Demiroren News Agency reported.

8:04 a.m., Feb. 7: Israeli medical team heads for southern Turkey

A delegation of dozens of Israeli doctors, medics, rescue operators and trauma specialists departed Tuesday afternoon from Israel for southern Turkey to help with the rescue operations already underway. The delegation, organized by the United Hatzalah emergency response organization, will land in Gaziantep, one of the cities hardest hit by the earthquakes.

An Israeli delegation organized by the ministries of foreign affairs and defense arrived early Tuesday to Adana.

8 a.m., Feb. 7: Ruling party lawmaker trapped under rubble dies

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker Yakup Tas, who was trapped under rubble in his hometown Adiyaman early Monday, died, a colleague announced on Twitter.

AKP legislator Metin Yavuz issued a condolence message for Tas' family and loved ones.

7:26 a.m. Feb. 7: Egypt’s President Sisi calls Syria’s Assad

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi phoned Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and offered Cairo’s full support for Syria’s recovery efforts, according to a presidential statement.

Feb. 7: Algeria dispatches aid to Syria

An Algerian aircraft carrying 17 tons of aid landed at Aleppo’s airport Tuesday. The North African country also sent a rescue team to the city, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported.

Feb. 7: Syria death toll rises

The Syrian government’s official SANA news agency reported Tuesday that the death toll reached 812 throughout the country. The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the figure at 1,621 people, counting 817 deaths in government areas and another 804 in rebel territory.

6:40 a.m., Feb. 7: 70 countries, 114 international organizations reach out to Turkey

President Erdogan said 70 countries and 14 international organizations reached out to Ankara to offer their help to Turkey after the earthquake, adding that he talked to 18 state and government leaders over the past two days.

“The support of the international community is valuable to us as moral support regardless of its content,” he said, adding that Qatar was set to send 10,000 container houses.

6:40 a.m., Feb. 7: Turkey declares “emergency rule” in 10 provinces for three months

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the move is aimed at facilitating the search and rescue efforts in the affected areas.

Emergency rule allows authorities to use all resources — public or private — available in the designated zones.

6:40 a.m., Feb. 7: Death toll exceeds 3,500

Turkey’s President Erdogan said the death toll has risen to 3,549, with the number of people injured reaching 22,168.

More than 8,000 people have been rescued, he added.

Erdogan said that 53,317 search and rescue workers and support team members are currently working on the ground.

He noted that some 54,000 tents and 102,000 beds have been dispatched to the disaster area.

Erdogan also said search and rescue teams are still having difficulties in reaching and delivering aid materials and equipment to some regions in the disaster area due to harsh winter conditions, reiterating calls for civilians to keep roads leading to and in the disaster area clear.

He added that the government allocated 100 billion for disaster relief efforts.

6:22 a.m., Feb. 7: UAE sends humanitarian aid to rebel-held northwest Syria

The United Arab Emirates' Ministry of Defense confirmed it has sent humanitarian relief to northern Syria as part of a Humanitarian Air Bridge that it set up for Syria. Rebel-held northwest Syria is the area that was worst affected by the massive earthquakes originating in Turkey's Kahramanmaras that occurred early Monday.

5:47 a.m., Feb. 7: Erdogan's chief adviser lashes out at French satire magazine

Ibrahim Kalin, chief adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, slammed the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo over its cover depicting Turkey's killer earthquakes. "No need even for tanks," the caption read of a cartoon depicting the devastation, in a snide allusion to the government's repressive ways.

Kalin tweeted, "Modern barbarians, drown in your hatred and spite."

Feb. 7: Head of Universal Syriac Orthodox Church calls for lifting international sanctions on Syria

Aphrem II Patriarch of Antioch & the East, Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church calls for the lifting of international sanctions on Syria via Twitter.

Feb. 7: Oman's sultan sends condolences to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad

Sultan Haitham bin Tarik Al Said of Oman called Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to express solidarity over the massive earthquakes that struck Syria and Turkey. Oman is among several Arab nations that have diplomatic ties with the Assad regime. The death toll from the twin quakes has now exceeded 5,000, according to the latest figures.

Feb. 7: Temperatures in the disaster area remain low as rescuers scramble to reach survivors under the rubble

Temperatures will remain low in 10 Turkish provinces that were badly struck by the earthquake as rescue workers are scrambling to rescue survivors under the rubble and millions of people are trying to find a safe place to stay.

According to Turkey’s weather forecast agency, the temperatures in the affected provinces for today are as follows:

Kahramanmaras: Currently 6 degrees Celsius (43F) / low of -4 degrees Celsius expected (25F) 
Malatya: -4C (25F) / -7C (19F)
Hatay: 8C (46F) / -1C (30F)
Gaziantep: 1C (34F )/ -4C (25F)
Adıyaman: 4C (39F) / -2C (28F)
Osmaniye: 6C (43F) / -1C (30F)
Adana: 10C (50F) / 2C (35F)
Diyarbakir: 2C (35F) / -3C (26F)
Sanliurfa: 3C / -1 (30F)
Kilis : 4C (39F) / -3C (26F)

5:30 a.m., Feb. 7: Growing desperation in Iskenderun fuels public anger

Desperation fuels the public anger in the southern Mediterranean town of Iskenderun, where many residents lament that they have been unable to reach any search and rescue workers to save their loved ones trapped under the rubble.

A journalist who has been in the town since last night told Al-Monitor that the number of search and rescue workers in the town of more than 180,000 is no more than 50. Al-Monitor was unable to independently verify this information. “I can say almost half of the town collapsed,” the journalist told Al-Monitor. “Every single person I talked to is asking, ‘Where is the government?"

An Iskenderun resident told Al-Monitor on Monday that the majority of the buildings along the coast of the town collapsed.

Meanwhile, a fire that engulfed the Iskenderun port last night still continues, with TV footage showing a thick smoke blanketing the port area. The port has been used for the transport of rescue workers and patients as harsh weather conditions pose challenges to air and road traffic.

Feb. 7: China sending emergency humanitarian aid to Turkey

The Chinese government will disburse 40 million yuan (about $5.9 million) in emergency humanitarian aid to Turkey for earthquake relief and rescue work, China Central Television reported.

According to the broadcaster, Chinese authorities decided to provide urgent humanitarian aid to Syria and Turkey. China is also to dispatch rescue and medical teams to both countries. The country's Red Cross will provide $200,000 to Syria and Turkey, respectively.

4:44 a.m., Feb. 7: Turkish government sets up misinformation hotline

Turkey's Communications Directorate, which is widely seen as an enforcer of censorship, has set up a "disinformation hotline" allowing citizens to report perceived acts of spreading false information with regard to the earthquake.

Feb. 7: Search and rescue teams from several countries including Qatar and Israel arrive in Turkey

Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said search and rescue teams from 19 different countries arrived in Turkey, and more than 70 countries offered help. Oktay said the teams have been dispatched to various affected provinces from the southern province of Adana, listing the countries as follows:


4:34 a.m., Feb 7: WHO says earthquake may affect 23 million people

Up to some 23 million people could be affected by the massive earthquake that has killed more than 5,000 in Turkey and Syria, the World Health Organization said Tuesday

4 a.m., Feb. 7: Hatay has highest fatalities among 10 Turkish provinces

Turkey’s southern border province of Hatay has the highest fatalities, according to official figures. Local journalists who are reporting from the ground say that more than half of the buildings in the province collapsed.

Journalist Mehmet Akif Ersoy of Haberturk TV described the province Tuesday during a live broadcast as “a ghost town.”

The death toll in 10 provinces are as follows:

Hatay: 872
Adiyaman: 720
Kahramanmaras: 530
Gaziantep: 481
Osmaniye: 293
Malatya: 166
Adana: 146
Sanliurfa: 95
Diyarbakir: 92
Elazig: 2

3:50 a.m., Feb. 7: Entry of vehicles banned to three provinces

Turkish authorities have banned entry of civilian vehicles to Adiyaman, Hatay and Kahramanmaras, Vice President Fuat Oktay said.

Oktay added that the measure is aimed at alleviating the congestion in the three provinces in a bid to facilitate the work of search and rescue teams.

3:45 a.m., Feb. 7: Death toll exceeds 3,400

Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said Turkey’s death toll has risen to 3,419 with the number of people injured reaching 20,534. Some 5,775 buildings collapsed, according to Oktay.

Oktay said that currently 12,181 search and rescue workers are working on the ground and that 3,294 foreign search and rescue workers arrived in Turkey.

New rescue teams will be dispatched to Hatay, Kahramanmaras and Adiyaman, Oktay added.

2:10 a.m., Feb. 7: EU dispatches 27 search and rescue teams to Turkey

The EU has dispatched more than 27 teams with 1,150 search and rescue workers from 19 EU member states, European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said.

2:00 a.m., Feb. 7: Death toll rises

Turkey’s disaster agency AFAD said Turkey’s death toll has risen to 3,381 with the number of people injured reaching 20,426. Some 5,770 buildings collapsed according to AFAD. Turkey’s Environment Minister Murat Kurum said the earthquake has impacted more than 13 million people.

1:30 a.m., Feb. 7: US ambassador to the UN: Time is of the essence to get assistance to Turkey and Syria

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement that a quick response is needed.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastating humanitarian toll caused by the earthquakes. With the death toll already in the thousands, time is of the essence to get assistance to Turkey and Syria.

President Biden has authorized an immediate US response, and I echo the UN secretary-general’s call to the international community to urgently increase critical funding and assistance to help those affected,” she said in a statement early Tuesday.

1:28 a.m., Feb. 7: 400-year-old Torah scrolls removed from Antakya synagogue

The small Jewish community in Antakya removed 400-year-old Torah scrolls from the ancient synagogue in the city, ending 2,500 years of Jewish prayer there. The synagogue in Antakya, considered one of the oldest in the world, was not destroyed in the earthquakes but was seriously cracked.

1 a.m., Feb. 7: Two-month-old baby rescued from under rubble in 29th hour 

Two-month-old Mehmet Cinar has been rescued by emergency teams 29 hours after he was trapped under the rubble in Turkey’s southern border province of Hatay. Cinar is seen being taken to an ambulance by first aid workers.

11:05 p.m., Feb. 6: Israeli rescuers arrive in Turkey

The Israeli team arrived at an Adana airport with more than 150 rescuers. Its members are now starting rescue missions at different sites. Representatives of the Israeli Embassy are working vis-a-vis Turkish authorities for the establishment of a field hospital expected to arrive in the country later on.

10:26 p.m, Feb. 6: Istanbul sends nearly 13,000 rescue workers to epicenter region 

Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya announced early Tuesday morning local time that the province is sending nearly 13,000 rescue personnel to the region at the epicenter of the quake. In a tweet, Yerlikaya said that 12,752 staff and volunteers from Turkey's disaster agency AFAD would be focused on the Hatay region.

Feb. 6: Syrians dig through rubble to find loved ones

Already displaced by war, millions of Syrians living in the northwest part of the country are now faced with the devastating aftermath of the earthquake. At least 700 people in Syria died as of late Monday, with thousands others injured. Ahmad Fallaha reports from Idlib for Al-Monitor. 

5:57 p.m., Feb. 6: Biden offers support to Turkey’s Erdogan

President Joe Biden offered condolences and support for Turkey in a call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday afternoon. Biden “reaffirmed the readiness of the United States to provide any and all needed assistance to our NATO Ally Türkiye in response to this tragedy,” according to a White House readout of the call.

5:00 p.m, Feb. 6: Death toll in Turkey at 2,379

Death toll from earthquakes in southern rises to 2,379, Vice President Fuat Oktay said. 

4:30 p.m, Feb. 6: US Secretaries of State and Defense speak to their Turkish counterparts

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar today by phone as Washington stands ready to offer further support for recovery efforts. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with his counterpart Mevlut Cavusolgu. "We are determined to provide any and all assistance to help those affected by these earthquakes. Secretary Blinken just got off the phone with his counterpart Foreign Minister top shoulder of Turkey to reiterate the same message," State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said.

3:27 p.m., Feb. 6: Iraq establishes 'air bridge' to Turkey and Syria

Iraqi military spokesman Yehia Rasool said Iraq established an "air bridge" to Turkey and Syria. Iraq dispatched medical supplies, fuel and other materials another forms of aid by plane, Rasool said in a tweet. 

1:20 p.m, Feb. 6: More than 6,640 people have been rescued in Turkey

Turkey’s disaster agency AFAD announced that the number of people who were rescued from the collapsed buildings has reached 6,445 people. The number of collapsed buildings across the 10 provinces that were hit by the quake has risen to 5,606, the agency added. 

12:40 p.m., Feb 6: Turkey declares one week of national mourning

Turkey’s president announced on Monday that Turkey would observe seven days of national mourning over the two massive earthquakes that hit the country only nine hours apart. Erdogan said flags would fly at half-mast across the country and at Turkey’s diplomatic missions abroad.

12:20 p.m., Feb. 6: Turkey’s death toll from earthquake rises

Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the death toll in Turkey has risen to 1,651, the number of people injured has reached 11,119, and the number of collapsed buildings is up to 3,471.

Speaking in Hatay, Koca said emergency teams were trying to rescue patients and hospital personnel from Iskenderun State Hospital, which collapsed during the first earthquake. Iskenderun is one of the worst-hit towns of Hatay. Koca said the injured people were being taken to hospitals in nearby provinces.

Feb. 6: US sending rescue teams, White House announces

US National Security Spokesman John Kirby announced on Monday that Washington will be sending rescue teams. "We are in the process of deploying two 79-person urban search and rescue teams to support Turkish search and rescue efforts, to help address all the needs of all of those who’ve been hurt or displaced by the earthquake," Kirby said. 

The rescue teams are headed to Turkey as US works with partners on the ground inside Syria. "USAID and the Pentagon are also now coordinating with their Turkish counterparts on additional assistance, and of course, US-supported humanitarian partners are going to be responding to the situation inside Syria," Kirby added. 

Feb. 6: UN agencies launch emergency response to help Turkey, Syria

Emergency medical teams from the World Health Organization have been given the green light to provide essential care for the injured and most vulnerable, the agency’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the international community to extend support to Syria and Turkey, where thousands of people were trapped under the rubble.

The UN chief said that the UN was counting on the international community to help the many thousands caught up in the disaster, “many of whom were already in dire need of humanitarian aid in areas where access is a challenge.”

11:40 a.m., Feb 6: Gulf countries rush aid to Turkey and Syria, Salim Essaid reports

UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed made calls to both Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

11:39 a.m., Feb. 6: Israel's Herzog speaks to Erdogan

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog spoke on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, conveying condolences over the earthquake casualties. Herzog said that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid made it clear that Israelis are united in their desire to help Turkey as much as necessary.

11:26 a.m., Feb. 6: Erdogan speaks to Saudi crown prince

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offered condolences to Erdogan on Monday, the Turkish presidency said.

11:20 a.m., Feb. 6: Death toll climbs to over 2,000

Reuters' latest estimate has put the death toll at around 1,500 in Turkey and more than 700 in Syria. The number is expected to go up as rescue efforts continue in both countries.

11:00 a.m., Feb. 6: Greece’s premier, president offer condolences to Erdogan

Greece’s President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis offered Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condolences and well wishes in separate phone calls, the Turkish presidency said.

The phone calls came amid heightening tensions between the two NATO allies over disputed territorial claims in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Feb. 6: Temperatures to fall further in impacted provinces as thousands trapped under the rubble

Temperatures in provinces hit by the powerful earthquakes are expected to fall as low as -4 Celsius (39 Fahrenheit) early Tuesday in some provinces as rescuers are scrambling to save survivors under the rubble, according to Turkey’s weather agency.

Snowfall is expected in Malatya, Adiyaman Diyarbakir and Kilis, where thousands of buildings have collapsed.
Forecasts show rainfall in Sanliurfa, Adana, Gaziantep and Hatay.

10:48 a.m., Feb. 6: Syrian Kurdish Commander condoles Syria and Turkey 

The commander-in-chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazlum Abdi, offered condolences to the Syrian people and Turkey as well as Turkey's Kurds over Monday's earthquakes. "We sympathize with the families of the victims of the earthquake that occurred at dawn today in the entire Syrian territory and we express our sincere condolences, wishing a speedy recovery for the injured.

We stand in solidarity with our people in all Syrian regions and are ready to extend a helping hand," Abdi tweeted in Arabic. His message for Turkey and its Kurds was in Kurmanji, the most widely spoken Kurdish dialect.

10:37 a.m., Feb. 6: Erdogan snubs CHP, calls Aksener

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke over the phone with Meral Aksener, leader of the right-wing nationalist Iyi or Good Party to discuss the earthquake. It remains unclear why Erdogan defied tradition to call her first rather than the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu, as would be customary in such circumstances.

The move has prompted further speculation that Erdogan is seeking to drive a wedge between the Good Party and the CHP ahead of the May 14 presidential and parliamentary elections. Aksener is known to oppose Kilicdaroglu's bid to become the presidential candidate for the alliance of six opposition parties.

10:30 a.m. Feb. 6: Death toll in Turkey rises to 1,541

The death toll has risen to 1,541, Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said. Oktay said 9,733 people have been injured and that the number of buildings confirmed to have collapsed has increased to 3,471. Oktay said the rescue teams are facing disruptions in transportation to the affected provinces due to weather conditions. Oktay said accommodation, food supplies and energy sources remain top priorities along with the rescue efforts. Primary, middle and high schools will remain closed across the country until Feb. 13.

Oktay also called on residents to evacuate the affected provinces, in order to facilitate the work of emergency teams. He added that bakeries will provide free bread to all those who remain in the 10 affected provinces.

10:17 a.m., Feb. 6: Putin discusses assistance with Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the earthquake. The two discussed rescue support Russia can provide to Turkey, according to the Turkish presidency.

10:13 a.m., Feb. 6: Russian rescuers to leave for Syria

Rescuers from Russia will fly to Syria “in the coming hours,” the Kremlin said. The announcement followed a call between President Vladimir Putin and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad. Russia has Ilyushin-76 planes on standby to fly to both Syria and Turkey, Reuters reported.

Feb 6: Sweden and Finland extend condolences to Turkey

Sweden’s and Finland's leaders Ulf Kristersson and Sanna Marin, whose countries have seen a rift with Turkey over their NATO membership and the burning of the Quran, have extended condolences to Ankara and Erdogan.

Feb. 6: Sick and elderly people wait in the snow in Malatya

A video circulated on social media showing elder and sick people who were evacuated from a nursing home in Malatya, one of the worst-impacted provinces by the quake, waiting outside in the snow.

9:51 a.m., Feb. 6: Israeli aid teams en route to Turkey

The first of two Israeli rescue teams has left the country for Turkey as part of the operation dubbed “Olive Branches.” The first team will assess the situation on the ground, while the second will contain full medical and rescue teams from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), The Times of Israel reported. The IDF has extensive experience responding to earthquakes and building collapses. 

9:40 a.m., Feb. 6: US support to Turkey 'underway'

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the US’ “initial response to Turkiye is already underway. Blinken added that “US-supported humanitarian organizations” are responding to the disaster across Syria.

9:20 a.m., Feb. 6: Death toll rises to 1,498

Turkish authorities put the death toll in Turkey at 1,498 from the two massive earthquakes that hit the country’s south and northern Syria. Turkey’s disaster agency AFAD also announced that the number of injured people has risen to 8,533, and put the number of buildings that collapsed at 2,834. 

8:59 a.m., Feb. 6: Kurdistan Region dispatches ambulances to Turkey and Syria

A spokesperson for the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq said three rescue teams and 25 ambulances will soon leave the region for Turkey and Syria. KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani had instructed health officials to respond to the earthquake.

8:03 a.m., Feb. 6: Biden 'in coordination' with Turkey

US President Joe Biden said he is “deeply saddened” by the devastation caused by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. “I have directed my team to continue to closely monitor the situation in coordination with Turkiye and provide any and all needed assistance,” he said on Twitter.

7:22 a.m., Feb. 6: Syrian rescue group says more than 380 dead, more than 100 buildings collapsed

The White Helmets rescue group in rebel-controlled northwest Syria said more than 380 people have died along with more than 1,000 injured. They added that 133 buildings completely collapsed and that another 272 partially collapsed.

The civilian aid and rescue group the White Helmets appealed for help via Twitter, saying northwest Syria was “in a state of catastrophe.” A White Helmets spokesperson standing before a sea of gray debris said in a video recording, presumably shot in Idlib, that hundreds of people were injured, dozens were dead “and many trapped under the rubble in the winter cold. We call on the international community to take action,” he said.

Tremors were also felt in Lebanon, the Mediterranean island of Cyprus and the southern Caucasian nation of Georgia, according to the US Geological Survey.

3:57 a.m., Feb. 6: Armenia offers help to Turkey and Syria

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan tweeted his “deepest condolences” to Turkey and Syria and said Armenia is “ready to provide assistance.” Turkey and Armenia are currently engaged in talks to restore diplomatic ties after years of tensions. 

2:40 a.m., Feb. 6: Greek Foreign Ministry 'ready to provide assistance'

The Greek Foreign Ministry said they are “profoundly saddened by the loss of life and damage” in Turkey and Syria. They added that Greece is “ready to provide assistance” in a tweet. Greece and Turkey’s relationship is tense due to the division of Cyprus, Turkey’s energy exploration plans in the Eastern Mediterranean and other issues.

Climbing death toll

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan put the death toll in Turkey at 912, adding that more than 5,385 people had been injured in 10 Turkish provinces. He said 2,470 people have been rescued from 2,818 buildings so far.

“Rescue teams have been immediately dispatched to the affected areas. God willing, we will overcome this disaster together with the minimum fallout,” Erdogan said. “Contacts have been initiated to dispatch international aid. Alongside NATO and the European Union offers for aid from 45 countries have been received.”

Several social media users reported communication with people trapped under the rubble and waiting to be rescued.

Citing Syria’s Health Ministry, local media outlets in Syria reported that more than 230 people were killed and 639 wounded in northern Syria.

Salih Muslim, co-chair of the Democratic Unity Party that shares power in northeast Syria’s Kurdish-led autonomous administration, said the impact in the areas under its control was minimal. “No one was killed and our structures are intact,” he told Al-Monitor. “The worst damage was inflicted west of Kobani in areas under Turkish occupation.” At least six people died in Aleppo’s Kurdish-majority Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood, Muslim added.

The biggest death toll in Turkey is in Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the quake, where 70 people are reported dead. Television footage shows emergency teams and volunteers trying to rescue people under the debris in the province under heavy snowfall. 

Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, bordering war-torn Syria, stands out as one of the most impacted areas in the region. Hatay Governor Rahmi Dogan said two state hospitals had collapsed in the province’s central town of Antakya and the seaside town of Iskenderun.

"The majority of the buildings along the coast of Iskenderun collapsed," a Hatay resident told Al-Monitor. Volkan Demirel, coach of Hatayspor and former soccer player, appealed for help in an online video. “Please help, the situation … here is really bad,” Demirel said in tears.

Vice President Fuat Oktay said that the province’s airport was closed due to heavy damage.

Orhan Mursaloglu, deputy mayor of Antakya, was among those trapped under the rubble after his apartment building collapsed. No rescue workers had reached the site as of time of publication of this article, his relatives told Al-Monitor.

Turkey’s state-run emergency relief agency AFAD called on the international community to help in rescue operations. Oktay said rescue teams and medical support are Turkey's priority.

The southern provinces of Adana, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Osmaniye, Diyarbakir, Adiyaman, Malatya and Sanliurfa were also hit by the quake, AFAD said. The region houses more than 10 million including millions of Syrian refugees.

In Diyarbakir, the unofficial capital of Turkey’s large Kurdish population, local journalist Bekir Dogan relayed scenes of anguish and devastation outside Galleria, a posh residential complex in the city center. “One of its wings lies in ruins, and we believe there may be at least 100 people inside,” Dogan told Al-Monitor.

Dogan was awake when the earthquake struck. He said that he had gone to his kitchen to fetch an ashtray when he heard a noise. “I thought a cat had entered the apartment but then the ground started shaking violently under me. I ran to my balcony thinking I would jump off if need be,” Dogan recalled. “I was terrified.”

Drama unfolded across the region as people trapped under the rubble cried for help using their cell phones. In the city of Sanliurfa bordering Syria, a child was rescued from under the remains of a seven-story building. Rescue workers could be seen getting her out, her face dazed, hair and body covered in dust.

The authorities are calling on people who are in the affected provinces to stay outdoors as aftershocks continue. The average temperature in the region varies between 38 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit with Kahramanaras, the epicenter of the temblor, under heavy snowfall.

Oktay said in addition to the rescue efforts, accommodation and nourishment of people in the affected regions would be the top priority.

As people who have family members in the affected region are rushing to the area, authorities are calling on the public to keep the roads open for rescue teams.

The Turkish Defense Ministry declared a state of emergency across the affected zone. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said several rescue teams have been dispatched to the affected areas.

Turkey has been experiencing severe communication and internet disruptions since the earthquake. The phone lines are completely down across the country’s southern region, with authorities calling on the public not to use their phones if they are not located in the impacted zones.

Oktay said natural gas flows to the affected regions were cut off as a precaution. Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said electricity for hospitals, bakeries and soup kitchens would be provided by mobile power stations that were dispatched to the region. Kerem Kinik, chair of the Red Crescent Society of Turkey, called for blood donations. Schools will remain closed for 10 days in the impacted provinces.

International reactions

Erdogan said 45 countries as well as the EU and NATO have offered to send help.

The EU described the earthquake as “one of the strongest earthquakes in the region in more than 100 years.” Its European Civil Protection Mechanism unit has been launched to help Turkey and Syria.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington stands ready to provide any needed assistance.

“President Biden has directed USAID and other federal government partners to assess US response options to help those most affected. We will continue to closely monitor the situation in coordination with the government of Turkey,” he said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he was in touch with Erdogan and the alliance is mobilizing support.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is preparing to send aid to both Turkey and Syria following the two devastating earthquakes.

“In accordance with the request of the Turkish government, I have directed the dispatch of search and rescue and medical teams,” Netanyahu said.

Earlier on Monday, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant each spoke with their Turkish counterpart to offer Israeli assistance, an offer accepted by Turkish authorities.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) said that war-torn areas of Syria were hit hard by the earthquake and that displaced people are particularly vulnerable due to the harsh winter weather affecting the area.

“Initial reports from IRC staff on the ground in Syria indicate that the impact has been devastating in areas that already host a high number of displaced and vulnerable families,” said the organization. “This tragic incident comes just after the country was hit by a snowstorm that has seen temperatures plummet.”

Coming just months before critical presidential and parliamentary elections and in the midst of a deepening economic crisis, the earthquake poses huge challenges to Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The failures of a previous government to provide timely and adequate assistance following a 7.4 earthquake in 1999 that claimed at least 20,000 lives had helped catapult the AKP to power in 2002.

The earthquake also affected parts of Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and the Caucasus, according to the US Geological Survey.

This is a developing story and is being updated regularly.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article mistakenly reported that soccer player Christian Atsu was rescued. Volkan Demirel, coach of Hatay Spor, said on Feb. 8 that Atsu had been still under the rubble.

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