Ankara/Damascus: The death toll due to the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria has increased to 4,940 as of Tuesday, while search and rescue operations are continuing to find more survivors amid harsh weather conditions in the two neighbouring nations, according to media reports.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) announced that the country’s overall toll currently stood at 3,381, while the number of injured persons increased to 20,426, reports the BBC.
In a televised briefing, AFAD official Orhan Tatar said that some 11,000 buildings were damaged and added that nearly 25,000 emergency responders are currently working at the affected areas.
Rescuers are using at least 10 ships and 54 aircraft to transport the wounded and help with search operations, CNN quoted Tatar as saying.
The AFAD also said that 2,660 personnel from 65 countries have been sent to help in the search and rescue operation.
Together with the Turkish rescuers, 13,740 people have already been assigned to work in the disaster area. They are using 629 cranes and 360 vehicles, reports the BBC.
The disaster agency further confirmed that an air bridge has been established, and 146 aid-delivering sorties have already been made.
In total, 300,000 blankets and 41,504 family tents have been delivered, along with heaters and kitchen sets.
In Syria, the death toll increased to 1,559 in areas controlled by the government and by the opposition, officials said, adding that at least 3,548 people were injured.
Meanwhile, aid planes from Iran and Iraq have arrived at Damascus International Airport.
The Iraqi planes carried about 70 tonns of food, medical supplies and blankets, among other emergency supplies, the BBC quoted Syrian state media SANA as saying in a report.
These were delivered early Tuesday morning, the report added.
The devastating 7.8 earthquake struck Turkey’s southern province of Kahramanmaras at 4.17 a.m. on Monday morning, which was followed by a 6.4-magnitude temblor a few minutes later in Gaziantep province.
The epicentre of the 7.8-magnitude quake was 23 km east of Nurdagi in Gaziantep, at a depth of 24.1 km, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
At around 1.30 p.m, a third 7.5-magnitude tremor hit Kahramanmaras, which officials said was “not an aftershock”.
There were more than 60 aftershocks recorded throughout the day.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the toll may rise dramatically as search and rescue operations are still continuing in both the countries, the BBC reported.
Monday’s quake is believed to be the strongest to hit Turkey since 1939, when a tremor of the same magnitude killed 30,000 people in Erzincan province, according to the USGS.
Earthquakes of this magnitude are rare, with fewer than five occurring each year on average, anywhere in the world, it said.
Seven quakes with magnitude 7.0 or greater have struck Turkey in the past 25 years, but Monday’s is the most powerful.
The earthquake was powerful enough to be felt as far away as Cyprus, Lebanon and Israel.
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