At least 1,600 people died Monday in Türkiye when two major earthquakes and 145 aftershocks struck the southeast of the country, officials said.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 1,651 people were killed and 11,119 others were injured following the earthquakes, which were felt in 11 provinces, including Malatya, Şanlıurfa, Osmaniye and Diyarbakır, although the toll threatened to climb much higher because of the heavy damage.
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According to the country’s disaster agency, the strong earthquakes originated in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş.
Türkiye’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said the 7.7 magnitude quake struck at 4.17 a.m. (1:17 a.m. GMT) and was centered in the Pazarcık district.
The quake occurred at a depth of 7 kilometers (4.3 miles).
It was followed by a 6.4 magnitude quake that struck southeastern Gaziantep province.
A third earthquake with a 6.5 magnitude also hit Gaziantep.
The initial earthquake was also felt in other southeastern provinces, including Diyarbakır and neighboring countries including Lebanon and Syria.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took to Twitter to convey get-well wishes to citizens affected by the initial earthquake.
He added that AFAD and other units are “on alert.”
He noted that rescue teams were immediately dispatched to the province affected by the earthquake.
“Our Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Health, the AFAD, provincial governorships and all other institutions started their work rapidly.”
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President Erdoğan who arrived at the Presidency of AFAD to coordinate the studies regarding the 7.7 magnitude earthquake, said that Türkiye was shaken by the biggest disaster since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake in the last century, adding: ”According to the findings so far, 1,014 of our citizens have lost their lives and 7,634 of our citizens have been injured. The number of people rescued from under the rubble has reached 2,470. The number of demolished buildings is 2,834.”
”Its center was determined as the Pazarcık district of Kahramanmaraş and its moment magnitude was measured as 7.7 according to the last evaluation. The earthquake was felt over a wide area,” the president maintained.
“The earthquake caused destruction in Kahramanmaraş, as well as in Hatay, Gaziantep, Kilis, Osmaniye, Malatya, Adıyaman, Diyarbakır, Şanlıurfa, Adana provinces,” Erdoğan noted.
”Despite minor damage in other provinces relatively close to the earthquake center, it is understood that the real destruction has taken place here. Serious destructions have also occurred in the cities of our southern neighbor Syria, close to our borders. Our state has taken action with all its institutions since the earthquake occurred.”
“We are also coordinating our work after the earthquake. We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage. We will continue our work.”
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also said that six earthquakes with a magnitude above 6.0 hit the country early Monday.
A powerful earthquake killed dozens and injured hundreds in northern and western Syria early on Monday, state media said, as rescue teams battled heavy rain and sleet in a search for survivors in the rubble of collapsed buildings.
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More than 783 people were killed and thousands injured in the Syrian regions of Aleppo, Hama and Latakia, the state news agency (SANA) said.
Syrian civil defense in opposition-held northwestern Idlib said the quake killed tens of people and injured hundreds in the areas where it operates.
“No official numbers yet but dozens reported dead and hundreds injured, many trapped under the rubble,” the force, known as the White Helmets, said in a Twitter message.
Several buildings in the affected areas had already endured damage during Syria’s nearly 12-year civil war