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UN: Death toll from twin earthquakes likely to surpass 56,000

February 13, 2023 at 1:13 pm

Search and rescue works continue in Islahiye district after 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hit Turkiye’s Gaziantep on February 10, 2023. [Adsız Günebakan – Anadolu Agency]

The United Nations has said that the death toll from last week’s earthquakes in northwest Syria and southern Turkiye is likely to be over 56,000.

The most current death toll is over 36,000, with at least 4,614 people dead in regime-held and opposition-held parts of Syria and at least 31,643 dead in Turkey.

On Monday last week a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, followed by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake brought entire apartment blocks to the ground and destroyed infrastructure.

Between Monday and Saturday there have been more than 2,000 aftershocks.

READ: Syria: opposition says UN handling of earthquake response was politicised

Seven days on, hopes are fading that anyone will be pulled out of the rubble alive. In Turkiye’s Hatay a woman was pulled out from under the building 176 hours after the earthquake hit.

Turkiye is thought to be switching operations from rescue to recovery. Syria’s Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, have said that the search and rescue operations are over as no one is likely to still be alive and that they are now just looking for bodies.

Some 5.3 million people in Syria have been made homeless after the earthquakes and need shelter, according to the UN’s Refugee Agency.

Opposition-held northwest Syria has been particularly badly hit, with the earthquake damage and bad weather hampering the delivery of aid.

Four days after the earthquake, relief materials, food and tents have started to arrive in north west Syria but local residents say it is nowhere near enough given the scale of the disaster.

READ: Aid enters Syria, but ‘it is nowhere near enough’