Istanbul February 9 2023: The death toll from the Turkey-Syria earthquakes has climbed above 15,000 as rescuers race to save survivors trapped under debris in freezing weather.
Turkey’s Disaster Management Authority (AFAD) said 12,391 people had died in the country from Monday’s quakes, while 2,992 people have died in Syria, bringing the confirmed total to 15,383.
The Turkish president has admitted to problems with his government’s initial response to the devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey, amid anger from those left destitute and frustrated over the slow arrival of rescue teams.
“Of course, there are shortcomings,” Erdogan said during a visit to the city of Kahramanmaras, one of the hardest hit spots.
“The conditions are clear to see. It’s not possible to be ready for a disaster like this.”
The Syrian Civil Defence group is calling for additional search and rescue equipment, describing the situation in rebel-held northwestern Syria as “tragic” and permeated with “the smell of death”.
“The situation is tragic in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, hundreds of families are still under the rubble,” volunteer Asim Al-Yahya said, according to a tweet from the group, who are also known as the White Helmets.
As rescue efforts cross the 72-hour mark, “there is a great shortage of search and rescue equipment,” he added.