The death toll from Monday’s devastating earthquakes in southern Türkiye rose to 5,894, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said early Wednesday.
Speaking at a news conference, Oktay put the number of injured from the massive quakes centered in Kahramanmaras province at 34,810.
“The loss of every citizen deeply saddens us,” Oktay told reporters, adding that authorities are continuing their rescue efforts to reach out to survivors.
As many as 5,775 buildings collapsed, he said. More than 8,000 people have been rescued from the rubble of the buildings.
Earlier Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said “the fact that over 8,000 of our citizens have been rescued from the wreckage is our greatest relief,” speaking at the State Information Coordination Center in the capital Ankara.
The country has declared a state of emergency for three months in 10 provinces in order for search and rescue operations and other efforts to be carried out rapidly.
“We’re facing one of the biggest disasters not only of the history of the republic but also of our geography and the world,” said the Turkish president.
Early Monday morning, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck Kahramanmaras, followed by a 7.6-magnitude quake about nine hours later, which rocked the region, affecting several other provinces including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.
The earthquake was also felt in several countries in the region including Lebanon and Syria.
A total of 60,218 emergency officials are working in the area, including 3,200 personnel from 65 countries, Türkiye’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said in an earlier statement.
-‘Biggest disaster’ since 1939 Erzincan quake
Türkiye is observing a seven-day period of national mourning after the deadly quakes.
All national sports events in Türkiye have been suspended until further notice, and all schools in Türkiye will be closed until Feb. 13, and the schools in the 10 affected provinces until Feb. 20.
The parties represented in parliament – the Justice and Development (AK) Party, Republican People’s Party (CHP), Good (IYI) Party, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) – also issued a joint statement on the quakes.
“As representatives of the Turkish Parliament Speakership and the five political parties that have groups in the assembly, we stand by and at the service of our citizens,” the statement said.
Erdogan said Monday that with the quake, Türkiye was shaken by the “biggest disaster” since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake.
“Our state has taken action with all its institutions since the earthquake. All resources have been mobilized,” he said at the AFAD office in Ankara, where he was coordinating rescue and relief work.
Erdogan also called on the nation to be of “one heart,” saying: “I hope we will leave these disastrous days behind in unity and solidarity as a country and nation.”
-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 high number of transport aircraft, including A-400Ms, dispatched search and rescue teams and vehicles to the region. Ambulance planes are also using the air aid corridor.
Nearly 9,000 Turkish soldiers also rushed to the aid of citizens in the field.
“Our citizens affected by the earthquake are being hosted in the barracks of our 2nd Army Command in Malatya,” the Turkish National Defense Ministry said on Twitter.
In addition, the flights of two Akinci drones, used to coordinate work in disaster areas, continue.
Besides rescue teams, blankets, tents, food and psychological support teams were also sent to affected regions.
After the quakes, condolences poured in from around the world expressing solidarity with Türkiye, with many countries sending rescue teams and aid.
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