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Rescuers race to find Türkiye quake survivors as death toll rises

At least 18,991 people lost their lives after two deadly earthquakes and more than 11,000 aftershocks rock the country’s south, Türkiye’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) announced on Feb. 10.

Apart from the estimated death toll, AFAD also reported that at least 74,242 others were injured following the quakes felt in 10 southern provinces, though the toll threatened to climb much higher.

The magnitude 7.7 quake struck seven kilometers (4.3 miles) below the surface in Kahramanmaraş’s Pazarcık district on Feb. 6 at 4:17 a.m.

The earthquake also rocked the neighboring provinces of Hatay, Adıyaman, Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, Diyarbakır, Adana, Malatya, Osmaniye and Kilis and neighboring countries, including Syria and Lebanon.

Another 7.6-magnitude earthquake followed the first one, which also jolted southern Türkiye. Over 11,000 aftershocks were experienced in the region, AFAD announced.

Many buildings damaged in the first major earthquake collapsed by the impact of the second tremor.

Thousands of buildings collapsed in 10 provinces due to the massive earthquakes, while the number of buildings that have not been confirmed yet but were reported to have toppled is much higher, AFAD informed.

The most severe damage in the earthquake occurred in Hatay, where a hospital and a runway at the airport were destroyed and many people are still waiting under the rubble in the city as dozens of buildings collapsed and roads cracked, local media reported, though the epicenter of the shake was Kahramanmaraş.

In Gaziantep, one of the provinces most affected by the two major earthquakes, the number of people who lost their lives exceeded 2,500, Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum announced.

Search and rescue efforts are ongoing in 108 buildings in the province, he noted.

Kurum also stated that his ministry determined that apart from collapsed buildings, at least 12,141 buildings are severely damaged after the deadly quakes.

Rescue teams are racing against time to reach the citizens under the rubble, while relatives of the trapped are following the works in worry.

More than 120,340 personnel continue to carry out search and rescue efforts in the quake-affected regions, Vice President Fuat Oktay reported.

Noting that some 29,622 search and rescue teams are currently in the field, Oktay stated that 6,479 of these teams came from 75 different countries to provide support to rescue more people from the debris.

Turkish Airlines (THY), which carried out the evacuation of earthquake victims, announced that they carry almost 26,700 citizens with the 150 evacuation flights on Feb. 10.

Since Feb. 6, when the evacuation operation started, THY has evacuated 125,957 people with a total of 709 flights.

The military cargo plane, which departed from Kahramanmaraş, brought 210 earthquake victims to Istanbul.

Meanwhile, another 5.0 magnitude earthquake occurred in Malatya’s Yeşilyurt district at around 7:50 a.m. on Feb. 10.

The quake occurred 2.3 kilometers below the surface.

Türkiye lies in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones. The 7.4 magnitude Düzce earthquake in 1999 was one of the worst in the history of Türkiye in decades.

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