Turkey and Syria earthquake: death toll passes 11,000 as anger grows over official response – latest updates

LIVE – Updated at 11:06

Number of people killed in Turkey and Syria expected to keep rising as anger grows in Turkey over slow response from authorities.

Combined death toll in Turkey and Syria rises to over 11,200


Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that the death toll from Monday’s quake has reached 8,754. Combined with the 2,470 known deaths in Syria, that brings the total official death toll to 11,224.

The World Health Organization has suggested the final toll could rise as high as 20,000. A similar-sized earthquake in the region in 1999 killed at least 17,000 people.

Reuters reports that, speaking to reporters in the Kahramanmaraş province near the epicentre of the earthquake, with constant ambulance sirens in the background, Erdoğan said there had been problems with roads and airports but that everything would get better by the day.

He also said citizens should only heed communication from authorities and ignore “provocateurs,” as thousands of people complain about the lack of resources and slow response by officials. Turkish police have detained several people over their social media posts about the earthquake.

Syria requests aid through EU civil protection mechanism


Syria has activated the EU civil protection mechanism two days after the earthquake, the European Commission’s head of crisis management Janez Lenarcic said on Wednesday.

“Earlier today, this morning, we have received a request from the government of Syria for assistance through the civil protection mechanism,” Reuters reports Lenarcic told the media.

Lenarcic said member states are encouraged to contribute with assistance as requested.

In October 2001, the European Commission established the EU civil protection mechanism. When an emergency overwhelms the response capabilities of a country in Europe and beyond, it can request assistance from the programme.

In addition to the 27 EU member states, there are currently eight other participating states (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey). The European Commission’s website say that since its inception, the mechanism has responded to over 600 requests for assistance inside and outside the EU.



A container blaze at Turkey’s southern port of Iskenderun has been brought under control, Turkey’s maritime authority said on Wednesday, following combined extinguishing efforts from land, sea and air.

Operations at the port were shut down until further notice after a fire broke out due to the earthquakes that hit the region on Monday, and freighters were diverted to other ports.

A source from the port told Reuters the flames had not spread to the area where flammable materials were stored, and that the nature of the fire, which has unleashed a huge cloud of black smoke over the city, was still unclear.

“We are suspecting it is plastic raw material or chemical but we could not clearly determine it as the containers collapsed and scattered,” the source said.



Pope Francis offered his prayers for the thousands of victims of the earthquake in Syria and Turkey and called on the international community to continue to support rescue and recovery efforts.

“I am praying for them with emotion and I wanted to say that I am close to these people, to the families of the victims and everyone who is suffering from this devastating disaster,” he said, Reuters reports.

“I thank those who are offering help and encourage everyone to show solidarity with these countries, some of which have already been battered by a long war,” he added at the end of his weekly audience in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican on Wednesday.



Here are some of the latest images to be sent to us from Turkey over the news wires



Cold weather continues to be expected in the region struck by Monday’s quake. The BBC’s Turkish language service reports that Turkey’s meteorological service has predicted minimum and maximum temperatures for Kahramanmaraş today as -6C and 1C (21-34F), and for Gaziantep between -5C and 1C (23-34F). Diyarbakır is expected to have continued snowfall, with temperatures climbing to 2C (35F) at most.



The White Helmets in Syria, who have been conducting rescue operations in the rebel-held north-west of the civil war-wracked country have posted to social media to state that four of their volunteers and their families are among the victims of the quake there.



This aerial drone footage taken over the Turkish city of Kahramanmaraş shows the scale of destruction two days after the quake shook south-east Turkey. Buildings can be seen in the footage reduced to just debris and collapsed concrete mounds.



Some families have been forced to try to shelter in the streets in Turkey, while others have been lucky enough to find trains or state buildings to use as temporary accommodation.



AFP reports that in Gaziantep in Turkey, shops are closed and there is no heat because gas lines have been cut to avoid explosions. Finding petrol was tough. About 100 people wrapped in blankets slept in the lounge of an airport terminal, it reports.

“We saw the buildings collapse so we know we are lucky to be alive,” said Zahide Sutcu, who went to the airport with her two small children.

“But now our lives have so much uncertainty. How will I look after these children?”

In Kahramanmaraş, reporters spoke to Ali Sagiroglu, who expressed frustration at the response of emergency services.

“I can’t get my brother back from the ruins. I can’t get my nephew back. Look around here. There is no state official here, for God’s sake,” he said.

“For two days we haven’t seen the state around here. Children are freezing from the cold.”

Death toll in Turkey and Syria rises to over 9,500


Turkey’s disaster management authority has raised the official death toll from Monday’s quake up to 7,108 people. The combined total, with the 2,470 deaths recorded officially in Syria, has reached 9,578.

The numbers are expected to continue to rise as further rescue work and excavations are carried out. Emergency services have been hampered by poor weather.

Combined Turkey and Syria death toll rises to 9,427


Turkey has revised up the death toll again from the earthquake, with authorities now saying that 6,957 people have been killed there. With the 2,470 deaths in Syria included, the total number killed by Monday’s quake now stands at 9,427.


08:28 Aletha Adu

In the UK, the newly appointed chair of the ruling Conservative party said the country would be ready to respond to any further requests from Turkey for support.

Greg Hands defended the UK’s commitment to foreign aid spending which the Government slashed from 0.7% to 0.5% in 2021.

He told viewers of Sky News in the UK: “We stand ready to provide more assistance should further requests come through.”

Asked about financial aid to the region, he said: “We already provide, of course, a lot to the region. We’re one of the biggest bilateral donors, and particularly to Syria.

“I think that will be something that would have to be looked at in the round as and when requests come in for that assistance.”

“The UK, of course, shapes up very favourably when it comes to our aid budget overall,” he said. “And obviously we have the commitment to restore the aid budget as soon as we’re able, the fiscal position here in the UK allows us. There’s been no reduction to aid to the region. We remain one of the biggest bilateral donors in particular to Syria. The awful situation has been going on there obviously in advance of the earthquake.”



Here is a summary from Associated Press of some of the international aid efforts that are being sent to Turkey and Syria.

  • The European Union has mobilized search and rescue teams to help Turkey, while the bloc’s Copernicus satellite system has been activated to provide emergency mapping services. At least 19 member countries have offered assistance.

  • The US is coordinating immediate assistance to Turkey, including teams to support search and rescue efforts. In California, nearly 100 Los Angeles County firefighters and structural engineers, along with six specially trained dogs, were being sent to Turkey.

  • Russia as sent rescue team to Syria, where Russian military deployed in that country already had sent ten units comprising 300 people to help clear debris and search for survivors. The Russian military has set up points to distribute humanitarian assistance. Russia also has offered help to Turkey, which has been accepted.

  • Israel’s army is sending a search and rescue team of 150 engineers, medical personnel and other aid workers to render lifesaving aid in Turkey. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has also approved a request for humanitarian aid for Syria, although it remains unclear who made the request and how it would be delivered. Syria and Israel have no formal diplomatic relations.

  • A team of 82 rescuers sent by China has arrived in Adana, Turkey. They include specialists in search and rescue as well as medical treatment, and they brought in 21 tons of rescue equipment and supplies.

Greece, Lebanon, Germany, South Korea, Algeria, Pakistan, Japan, the UK and Australia are among many other countries to send or promise assistance.



This girl was rescued after being trapped for 40 hours in Salqin, Idlib:



Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to travel to town of Pazarcık, near the epicentre of the quake, and to the worst-hit province of Hatay on Wednesday, Associated Press reports.

Nearly two days after the magnitude 7.8 quake struck south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria, killing more than 8,500 people, search teams from more than two dozen countries have joined the Turkish emergency personnel, and aid pledges have been pouring in.

Many survivors in Turkey have had to sleep in cars, outside or in government shelters.

“We don’t have a tent, we don’t have a heating stove, we don’t have anything. Our children are in bad shape. We are all getting wet under the rain and our kids are out in the cold,” Aysan Kurt, 27, told the AP. “We did not die from hunger or the earthquake, but we will die freezing from the cold.”

In Syria, aid efforts have been hampered by the ongoing war and the isolation of the rebel-held region along the border, which is surrounded by Russia-backed government forces. Syria itself is an international pariah under western sanctions linked to the war.



Here are some of the latest images to be sent to us over the news wires from the disaster zone.



Burcin Gercek for Agence France-Presse reported overnight on some of the anger in Turkey at the speed of the rescue response there.

Despite the importance of every minute, no rescue team arrived at the scene in parts of the city of Gaziantep for the critical first 12 hours after the disaster, forcing victims’ relatives and local police to clear the ruins by hand, witnesses said.

And when the rescuers finally came on Monday evening, they only worked for a few hours before breaking for the night, residents told AFP.

“People revolted (on Tuesday) morning. The police had to intervene,” said Celal Deniz, 61, whose brother and nephews remain trapped.

In the miserable cold, Deniz and his relatives try to warm themselves around a fire they lit in the open air, not too far from the destroyed building.

“There isn’t anywhere that our rescuers cannot reach,” Turkey’s Red Crescent chief Kerem Kinik declared in a TV interview.

But Deniz disagreed.

“They don’t know what the people have gone through,” he said.

Welcome and summary so far …


Welcome to the Guardian’s continued live coverage of the aftermath of the devastating quake in southern Turkey and Syria, which has so far killed more than 8,500 people. It has just gone 10.30am in Ankara and Damascus, and this is the latest information we have:

  • The latest death toll from Monday’s catastrophic earthquake stands at 8,704. On Wednesday morning, AFP reported that Syria’s death toll had climbed to 2,470. At least 6,234 have died in Turkey. The numbers are expected to continue to increase during the day as more rubble is excavated.

  • Turkey’s disaster agency said 37,011 people had been injured, adding that more than 79,000 personnel were engaged in search and rescue operations.

  • More than 8,000 people so far have been pulled from the debris in Turkey, said the Turkish vice-president, Fuat Oktay. About 380,000 people have taken refuge in government shelters or hotels, with others huddling in shopping malls, stadiums, mosques and community centres.

  • On Tuesday afternoon, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared a disaster zone in the 10 provinces affected by the earthquakes, imposing a state of emergency in the region for three months.

  • Turkey’s disaster management agency said it had 11,342 reports of collapsed buildings, of which 5,775 had been confirmed. The ministry of transport and infrastructure said that on Monday night 3,400 people had taken shelter in trains being used as emergency accommodation.

  • In Turkey, anger is mounting over what was described as a slow and inadequate response by authorities. Many countries have sent emergency aid and search and rescue assistance already.

  • Syria was accused of playing politics with aid after the Syrian ambassador to the UN, Bassam Sabbagh, said his country should be responsible for the delivery of all aid into Syria, including those areas not under Syrian government control.

  • Three British nationals are missing after the earthquake, the UK’s foreign secretary said on Tuesday. “We assess that the likelihood of large-scale British casualties remains low,” James Cleverly said.

  • Four Australians are unaccounted for following the earthquakes. Australia’s foreign affairs department is providing consular assistance to the families of the nationals who were where the catastrophe struck and to about 40 other Australians and their families who were also in the area.

  • Satellite images released by Maxar Technologies give an idea of the scale of the challenge for emergency crews over the coming days. They show in vivid detail the breadth of the destruction that has unfolded in towns, cities and villages across the region.

Related: Before and after satellite images show scale of earthquake destruction in Turkey

  • This is Martin Belam in London. I will be with you for the next few hours, and you can contact me on [email protected]

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