Turkey-Syria earthquake: Death toll over 25,000, Turkey arrests 48 over looting

Turkey-Syria earthquake: Death toll over 25,000, Turkey arrests 48 over looting
The death toll exceeded 25,000 across southern Turkey and Syria a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said authorities should have reacted faster to Monday's huge earthquake.
8 min read
11 February, 2023

Rescuers in Turkey pulled two women alive from the rubble of collapsed buildings after they had been trapped for 122 hours following the region's deadliest quake in two decades, authorities said on Saturday.

The death toll exceeded 25,000 across southern Turkey and Syria a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said authorities should have reacted faster to Monday's huge earthquake.

One of the rescued women, Menekse Tabak, 70, was swaddled in a blanket while rescuers carried her to a waiting ambulance in the province of Kahramanmaras, images from state news agency Anadolu showed.

Live Story

The other was an injured 55-year-old, identified as Masallah Cicek, who was extricated from the debris of a collapsed building in Diyarbakir, the largest city in southeast Turkey, the agency said.

Sixty-seven people had been clawed from the rubble in the previous 24 hours, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay told reporters overnight, in efforts that drew in 31,000 rescuers across the affected region.

About 80,000 people were being treated in hospital, while 1.05 million left homeless by the quakes huddled in temporary shelters, he added.

A map of the Turkey-Syria earthquake

"Our main goal is to ensure that they return to a normal life by delivering permanent housing to them within one year, and that they heal their pain as soon as possible," Oktay said.

With many left short of food in bleak winter conditions, questions are mounting for leaders of both countries over their response.

Syrian regime President Bashar Al-Assad made his first reported trip to affected areas since the quake, visiting a hospital in Aleppo with his wife Asma, state media said.

His regime's government approved deliveries of humanitarian aid across the front lines of the country's 12-year civil war, a move that could speed help for millions of desperate people.

Earlier, the World Food Programme said it was running out of stocks in rebel-held northwest Syria as the state of war complicated relief efforts.


Featured image credit: Cemal Yurttas/dia images via Getty Images

6:31 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

This concludes The New Arab's live coverage of the Turkey-Syria earthquake for today. Follow The New Arab on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for the latest news and developments on the ongoing rescue efforts.

5:33 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkey arrests 48 over looting

Turkish authorities have arrested 48 people over looting, state media reported on Saturday.

The suspects were held in eight different provinces as part of investigations into looting after Monday's 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the region, killing more than 25,000 people in Turkey and Syria, news agency Anadolu said.

5:02 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkey to act against those involved in looting, President Erdogan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the government would take action against those involved in looting and other crimes in the region hit by this week's devastating earthquakes.

"We've declared a state of emergency," he says during a visit to the disaster zone.

"It means that, from now on, the people who are involved in looting or kidnapping should know that the state's firm hand is on their backs," he says.

On Friday he said there had been looting in some areas. It was not clear what incidents of kidnapping Erdogan was referring to.

Live Story
4:06 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Death toll now above 25,000

The death toll from the earthquake in Turkey and Syria has now climbed to above 25,000.

Officials and medics said 21,848 people had died in Turkey and 3,553 in Syria from Monday's 7.8-magnitude tremor, bringing the confirmed total to 25,401.

4:02 PM
The New Arab Staff

At least 83 Palestinians killed in Turkey-Syria earthquake: ministry

At least 83 Palestinians are confirmed to have been killed in the earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on Monday, devastating several towns and cities in the region.

The increase in the death toll comes as the bodies of a woman and her daughter were pulled from under the rubble in the Turkish city of Antakya, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates.

Meanwhile, the ministry said it expects the death toll to increase, as the Palestinian Rapid Response Team is continuing its rescue mission in the affected areas, according to the Palestinian Wafa agency.

Live Story
3:54 PM
The New Arab Staff

White Helmets chief: Teams continuing operations in northwest Syria despite challenges

The head of the White Helmets rescue group says his teams are continuing their operations in northwest Syria despite the rescue group "facing a lot of challenges".

"But we will keep doing as much as we can to continue helping [those] in need," Raed Al-Saleh tweets.

3:49 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkey-Armenia gate opens for first time in decades to allow aid

A border gate between long-feuding Turkey and Armenia has been opened for the first time in 35 years to allow aid for victims of the devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey, Ankara's state-owned Anadolu news agency and a diplomat said.

Turkey's special envoy for Armenia, Serdar Kilic, tweeted photos of trucks passing through the Alican checkpoint at the Turkish side of the Aras river separating the two countries.

"I will always remember the generous aid sent by the people of Armenia to help alleviate the sufferings of our people in the earthquake-stricken region in Turkey," Kilic said, thanking Armenian officials.

Anadolu said the crossing was last used to send aid from the Turkish Red Crescent to earthquake-hit Armenia in 1988.

Live Story
Turkey's Serdar Kilic thanked Armenian officials [Huseyin Yildiz/Anadolu Agency/Getty]
1:55 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkey detains 12 over collapsed buildings after quake: report

Turkish police have detained 12 people over collapsed buildings in the southeastern provinces of Gaziantep and Sanliurfa, local media reported on Saturday, following the huge quake that hit Turkey.

Those taken into custody included contractors, the DHA news agency said.

At least 6,000 buildings collapsed after a 7.8-magnitude tremor hit the region, killing nearly 25,000 people.

12:44 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UN aid chief says world must remember those displaced by quake in Turkey, Syria

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths appealed on Saturday to remember thousands of people who needed shelter and food while rescuers kept searching for survivors.

Speaking during a news briefing in the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras, as rescuers worked behind him, Griffiths said he spoke to families who had been displaced and left cold and hungry by the quake.

"I am here to make sure these people are not forgotten," he told reporters.

Griffiths praised Turkey's response to the disaster as "extraordinary" and hailed the "courage of first responders working 24-hours, all the time, hoping for one more sound, one more person who survived".

"It's the beginning and in my experience people are always disappointed in the beginning," he said, in an apparent reference to criticism over the response to the quake.


12:24 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The earthquake's death toll reaches 21,043 in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says.


11:58 AM
The New Arab Staff

In pictures: Families hang on to hope in earthquake-devastated Turkey

11:54 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

UN aid chief says earthquake is region's 'worst event in 100 years'

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths described on Saturday the devastating earthquake that hit southern Turkey and northwestern Syria as the "worst event in 100 years in this region".

Speaking during a news briefing in the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras, Griffiths also lauded Turkey's response to the disaster as "extraordinary".

He also told Reuters he hoped in Syria aid would go to both government and opposition-held areas, but that things with this regard were "not clear yet".


11:52 AM
The New Arab Staff

Here's a map of the areas in Syria and Turkey affected by Monday's earthquake.

A map of the Turkey-Syria earthquake
11:00 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Earthquake compounds Erdogan's woes as Turkey election nears

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power 20 years ago riding a wave of public outrage toward the previous government's handling of a deadly earthquake.

Now, three months away from an election, Erdogan's political future could hinge on how the public perceives his government's response to a similarly devastating natural disaster.

"It is going to be a big challenge for Erdogan, who has established a brand for himself as an autocratic figure but an efficient one that gets the job done," said Soner Cagaptay, a Turkey expert at the Washington Institute and the author of several books on Erdogan.

Live Story
9:27 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Cuba to send medics to Turkey, Syria to assist in earthquake relief

Cuba prepared on Friday to send healthcare workers to Turkey and Syria, joining a growing group of nations providing rescue and medical aid to the region after a devastating earthquake this week.

Cuban authorities in Havana on Friday evening said 32 medics were set to depart for Turkey.

Earlier in the week, Syrian regime ambassador Ghassan Obeid told Cuban state-run media that 27 Cuban medics would be headed to Syria.


Cuba prepared Friday to send healthcare workers to Turkey and Syria [YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty]
9:26 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Three people rescued from Syria rubble 110 hours after earthquake

Three people were rescued from the rubble of a building in the Syrian city of Jableh, regime media reported, around 110 hours after a deadly earthquake struck the region on Monday.

Live television footage from the site showed two people being pulled from the rubble by Syrian and Lebanese rescue crews, as bystanders clapped and shouted "God is great".

A rescue worker said that two of those rescued were a woman and her child.

More than 3,500 people have been killed by the quake in Syria, according to tallies by state media and a rescue service in the insurgent-held northwest of the conflict-divided country.

Turkey's death toll neared 20,000 as of Friday evening, according to the country's disaster management authority.


9:24 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkish restaurant owners scramble to feed earthquake survivors

Restaurant owners from across Turkey travelled to Hatay, one of the regions worst-hit by Monday's devastating earthquake, to dish up kebabs, rice and other hot meals on Friday to disaster survivors.

Omer Faruk, who runs a restaurant in Konya in central Turkey, travelled to a tent city housing those who had lost their homes. Some 550 white tents have been erected next to Hatay Stadium - usually used for soccer - in the south of the country.

"We are providing food to our citizens who are suffering due to the earthquake. We are all restaurateurs. We are here to help quake victims," said Faruk.

Long lines of residents, including many children, queued up to receive the meals. Volunteer Sardar Kayak said they were providing food for 1,000 people a day at the stadium, as well as another thousand in nearby villages.