ADDS REMARKS FROM DISASTER AGENCY OFFICIAL, MINISTER; BACKGROUND
By Diyar Guldogan
ANKARA (AA) - At least 3,381 people were killed and 20,426 others injured in 10 provinces of Türkiye after two strong earthquakes on Monday jolted the southern part of the country, an official from the disaster agency said 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.
Orhan Tatar, the risk reduction general manager of the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), said quakes were followed by 285 aftershocks and 5,775 buildings collapsed.
He added that more than 24,000 personnel are currently conducting search and rescue operations.
Tatar said the impact area of the quakes covers an area of approximately 110,000 square kilometers (42,471 square miles).
For his part, Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum said 13.5 million citizens have been directly affected by the quakes.
- 'Biggest disaster' since 1939 Erzincan quake
Türkiye will observe seven days of 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, have 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.