UPDATES WITH DEATH TOLL, ADDS MORE INFO FROM VICE PRESIDENT, MINOR EDITS THROUGHOUT
By Diyar Guldogan
ANKARA (AA) – At least 3,419 people were killed and 20,534 others injured in 10 provinces of Türkiye after two strong earthquakes on Monday jolted the southern part of the country, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Tuesday.
Early Monday morning, a 7.7 magnitude tremor struck the Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province, then about nine hours later, a 7.6 magnitude quake centered in Kahramanmaras’s Elbistan district 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.
More than 8,000 people have been rescued from the rubble so far, Oktay said.
At least 315 aftershocks have been recorded since the two major quakes, he added.
A total of 3,294 search and rescue personnel reached Türkiye from 14 countries, including Azerbaijan and Russia, the vice president said.
As many as 5,775 buildings collapsed, said Orhan Tatar, general director of earthquake and risk reduction at the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).
He added that more than 24,000 personnel are currently conducting search and rescue operations.
Tatar said the impact area of the quakes covers approximately 110,000 square kilometers (42,500 square miles).
Some 13.5 million citizens have been directly affected by the quakes, said Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum.
- 'Biggest disaster' since 1939 Erzincan quake
Türkiye is observing a seven-day national mourning after the deadly earthquakes.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said that with the quake, Türkiye was shaken by the "biggest disaster" since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake in the last century.
"Our state has taken action with all its institutions since the earthquake. All resources have been mobilized," he said at the AFAD office in the capital Ankara, where he was coordinating the 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."
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.
Besides rescue teams, blankets, tents, food, and psychological support teams were also sent to the region.
After the earthquakes, condolences poured in from around the world expressing solidarity with Türkiye, with many countries sending rescue teams and aid.