UDAPTE 6 - Over 8,570 killed as powerful earthquakes hit southern Türkiye

UDAPTE 6 - Over 8,570 killed as powerful earthquakes hit southern Türkiye

Monday's 2 major quakes, centered in Kahramanmaras, affect several other regional provinces

ADDS REMARKS FROM HEALTH MINISTER; UPDATES CASUALTIES, OTHER FIGURES; CHANGES HEAD, LEDE

By Diyar Guldogan

ANKARA (AA) – At least 8,574 people were killed and 49,133 others injured after two strong earthquakes jolted southern Türkiye on Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.

In a visit to the quake-hit region to inspect rescue and relief efforts, Erdogan said a total of 6,444 buildings were destroyed.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, struck 10 provinces and affected more than 13 million people.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, felt the strong tremors that struck Türkiye in the space of less than 10 hours.

Türkiye has mobilized all the resources for post-quake efforts, Erdogan said in Kahramanmaras, adding: "The state is working with municipalities, especially with the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), with all its means."

More than 98,150 search and rescue personnel are currently conducting operations in the field, AFAD said in a statement.

"As a result of the negotiations with the Turkish Foreign Ministry, 5,309 personnel coming from other countries for help were dispatched to the disaster area," it added.

Besides rescue teams, blankets, tents, food, and psychological support teams were also sent to the affected areas.

A total of 70,818 family tents were set up to shelter survivors, AFAD also said.

It added that 5,514 vehicles, including excavators, tractors and dozers, were also sent to the disaster area.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 77 field hospitals were set up in the 10 provinces.

"We can also perform surgical operations in some of these hospitals where emergency health services are provided. Our earthquake victims whose health conditions are risky are transferred to hospitals in the region by helicopter after the first response," Koca said on Twitter.

Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum warned that aftershocks are still continuing. "Therefore, I would like to underline that the sensitivity regarding damaged buildings still continues."

Dormitories, sports halls, youth centers, and youth camps in 10 provinces are serving quake victims with meal and shelter, Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoglu said.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the priority is now to save people trapped under the rubble. "After that, the judicial process will follow. All those who had negligence and fault will be held accountable," he pledged.


- State of emergency declared

For search and rescue operations to be carried out rapidly, Türkiye on Tuesday announced a state of emergency for three months in 10 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.

"We are facing one of the biggest disasters not only of the history of the Republic of Türkiye but also of our geography and the world," Erdogan said on Tuesday.

Türkiye is observing a seven-day national mourning after the devastating quakes.

All national sports events in the country have been suspended until further notice. Schools nationwide will be closed until Feb. 13, and education in the 10 affected provinces is suspended until Feb. 20.

After the quakes, condolences poured in from around the world expressing solidarity with Türkiye, with many countries sending rescue teams and aid.


- 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 large number of transport aircraft, including A-400Ms, carried search and rescue teams and vehicles to the region. Ambulance planes are also using the air aid corridor.

Nearly 17,000 Turkish soldiers also rushed to the aid of people in the field, the National Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Rescue and relief personnel and materials were dispatched to the region from Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir with 122 aircraft, AFAD said.

In addition, the flights of two Akinci drones, used to coordinate work in disaster areas, continue.

A total of 10 ships were also assigned to the region for personnel and material shipment, and for evacuation.

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