Over 21,000 people have lost their lives since two massive earthquakes struck northern Syria and southern Turkey on Monday, while death toll estimates anticipate the number of dead will more than double in the coming days.
Turkey's disaster management agency said it had 11,342 reports of buildings that collapsed during the earthquakes, many of them multi-storey apartment buildings where rescue efforts are particularly complex and casualties are high.
"The death toll is starting to mount even faster than before," said Turkish president Erdogan in a recent statement.
The seismic shocks hit in the early hours of the morning when most people were at home sleeping, and unable to reach safety - a factor which experts say has raised the death toll significantly.
Informal reports from rescue workers on the ground in Syria and Turkey have told The New Arab that the official death toll is expected to climb by several thousand over the next hours and days.
The chances of survival for those still trapped in buildings without food or water for over 72 hours in freezing conditions are also expected to drop significantly.
Catastrophe risk firm Model for #Turkey and #Syria:
Median Fatality estimate: 52,355 (Range: 23,284 to 105,671)
Unfortunately we have seen another day of increased damage patterns in various cities (mostly to the south) and some refinements to the model.
The modelling system, which combines massive global databases with drone and satellite footage, forecasts that the death toll could rise over 100,000, depending on emergency responses, weather events, and further building collapses.
Ovgun Ahmet Ercan, an earthquake expert, estimated that "180,000 people or more may be trapped under the rubble, nearly all of them dead", The Economist reported.
This figure has not been corroborated or independently verified and no modelling has been published to support the claim.
It is estimated that as many as 23 million people across Turkey and Syria have been affected by the tragedy.