Turkey-Syria earthquake: death toll passes 11,000 as time runs out for survivors

Turkey-Syria earthquake: death toll passes 11,000 as time runs out for survivors
Desperation - and anger - is growing across both countries as the clock runs down on rescue operations as several hundreds remain trapped.
7 min read
08 February, 2023

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The death toll after Monday's disastrous earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has passed 11,000 on Wednesday and is expected to climb yet further. 

Turkish president Erdogan travelled to Kahramanmaras, the epicentre of the shocks, to meet survivors as he announced the mounting numbers of dead, confirmed by officials and rescue workers. 

Throughout the day, survivors and rescue teams have been picking through the ruins of homes to desperately try and free any survivors that remain trapped after Monday's devastating earthquake which has left more than 11,000 people dead across Turkey and Syria. 

Over 48 hours since the first 7.8 magnitude quake struck near the city of Gaziantep, residents remain too afraid to re-enter buildings that remain standing - while rescue crews work tirelessly to stop the death toll from mounting. 

Thank you for following The New Arab's live coverage of the Turkey-Syria earthquake.

Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for the latest news and developments.

5:55 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Today’s key updates:

Here is what you need to know as today’s rescue efforts face sub-zero temperatures and the death toll across Syria and Turkey continues to climb. 

  • Snow and ice are expected throughout the week as hundreds of thousands face another night outside for fear of further tremors and weakened buildings. 
  • Criticism is mounting in Turkey over reports of delays in emergency response and distribution of humanitarian aid, despite President Erdogan’s public appearances. 
  • Aid deliveries at the Syrian border continue to face delays
  • Twitter has been blocked on several internet providers while Erdogan visited badly-struck areas
  • Survivors told the New Arab’s sister site al-Araby al-Jadeed that scenes of the earthquake were ‘like judgement day’. 
  • Amid stories of devastation, rescue workers across Syria and Turkey have saved many families trapped for days inside collapsed buildings in bitter winter conditions. 
[Getty images]
5:27 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Aid - from whom, to whom - and how?

Here's a breakdown of the key supplies of aid to disaster-struck areas, and the challenges being faced along the way:

Live Story
5:11 PM
The New Arab Staff

Gaza gives blood for injured in Syria and Turkey

Dealing with health and infrastructure crises of their own, Palestinian residents of the Gaza strip are donating blood to those in need after the earthquake, in a scheme launched by the Red Crescent.


A patient gives blood in Khan Yunis [Getty images]
5:07 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Families cling to hope as search for survivors in Turkey underway

4:33 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

'Put politics aside', facilitate northwest Syria aid access: UN

A leading United Nations official on Wednesday called on quake-hit Syria's government to facilitate aid access to rebel-held areas in the northwest, warning that relief stocks will soon be depleted.

"Put politics aside and let us do our humanitarian work," the UN's resident Syria coordinator El-Mostafa Benlamlih said in an interview with AFP, warning: "We can't afford to wait and negotiate. By the time we negotiate, it's done, it's finished."

3:13 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Twitter down in Turkey as quake response criticism mounts

Twitter became inaccessible on major Turkish mobile providers on Wednesday as online criticism mounted of the government's response to this week's deadly earthquake.

The netblocks.org social media monitor said Twitter was being restricted "on multiple internet providers in Turkey".

Turkish police have detained more than a dozen people since Monday's earthquake over social media posts that criticised how President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has been dealing with the disaster.

Turkish social media have been filled with posts by people complaining about a lack of search and rescue efforts in their provinces.

The Twitter outage came as Erdogan toured two of the hardest-hit Turkish provinces.

Turkish officials released no immediate statements about the service disruption.

But they had issued repeated warnings about spreading misinformation in advance of a crucial May 14 election in which Erdogan will try to extend his two-decade rule.

2:51 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

While rescue efforts continue - and aid starts to reach survivors in need - many are having to prepare hastily-dug graves for their loved ones in the freezing earth.

2:42 PM
The New Arab Staff

Photographs from Syria and Turkey lay bare the destruction

Countless images have been pouring in, trying to capture the extent of the damage caused. 

There have been some glimmers of hope as survivors are pulled out of the rubble, but it remains a time of overwhelming distress and mourning.

View The New Arab's photo gallery here: 

Live Story
2:29 PM
The New Arab Staff

Sisi and Assad make first contact over earthquake relief

Despite being at odds with both Syria and Turkey for years, Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has spoken to Bashar al-Assad to discuss rescue efforts and extend condolences for the first time. 

More from The New Arab's Egypt correspondent here: 

Live Story


12:42 PM
The New Arab Staff

"Still hundreds alive under the rubble of collapsed buildings"

The White Helmets told TV reporters recently that they know it is not too late for many of those who remain trapped. 

"There are still hundreds of families trapped in collapsed buildings," one rescue volunteer told al-Araby TV. 

"We just need heaver tools and equipment to be able to get them out in time." 

White Helmets worked through the night with hand tools [Getty images]
12:26 PM
The New Arab Staff

Turkish fact-checkers warn against online misinformation

Pseudo-science and online misinformation are preying on people's fears in the aftermath of the earthquake as people try and make sense of the destruction.  

Baseless theories, incorrectly attributed footage have all been fuelling panic in the MENA region - leading Erdogan's communications chief to warn Elon Musk that misinformation "can cost lives and slow down our efforts".

Read the full story here: 

Live Story
11:52 AM
The New Arab Staff

Buildings and lives under threat in Libya's Tripoli

The seismic shocks have wreaked havoc further afield than Turkey and Syria. 

The Tripoli municipality in north Lebanon ordered the evacuation of several buildings potentially at risk of collapse, after the earthquake in Turkey shook already weakened structures in the city.

Thousands of old, poorly maintained and already crumbling buildings in the city's impoverished neighbourhoods are in danger of falling, according to experts, after Lebanon felt tremors from the powerful earthquake in the region on Monday.

Between 50 and 60 apartments in the city's old neighbourhoods were marked at risk and needed renovation according to building surveyors, Mayor Ahmad Qamareddine told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. He said a lack of financing - particularly amid Lebanon's unprecedented financial crisis - were obstructing necessary works from being carried out.

Tripoli - Lebanon's poorest city - has seen buildings collapse before [Getty images]
11:42 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Monday's earthquake 'strongest in 800 years'

Despite being one of the most seismically active regions in the world, a quake of this force has not been seen in modern-day Syria or Turkey for several centuries
"The last earthquake of an equivalent magnitude was the  1202 Damascus earthquake, whose magnitude ranged from 7.4 to 7.6 and resulted in an estimated 30,000 deaths," according to The Syria Report

11:22 AM
The New Arab Staff

Amid the devastation, rare glimpses of relief and good news are being shared as search and rescue efforts bear fruit. 

11:19 AM
The New Arab Staff

International aid is finding its way into Syria and Turkey - and from some unexpected sources. 

The Taliban has promised financial support "on the basis of shared humanity and Islamic brotherhood," despite facing some of the world's worst humanitarian conditions at home. 

Live Story
9:22 AM
The New Arab Staff

Summary of events on Day 3 after the deadly earthquake: 

  • A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the Turkey-Syria border region, near the city of Gaziantep, in the early hours of Monday while people were sleeping 
  • Then a 7.5 magnitude tremor hit around 13:30 local time in Kahramanmaras region 
  • The death toll in Turkey has leapt to 7,108 as of Wednesday morning 
  • The death toll in Syria has risen to at least 2,500, across government and rebel-held areas
  • Search and rescue missions to Syria from Arab states are arriving via Aleppo airport while border crossings from Turkey remain difficult
  • The US has sworn to deliver aid to Syria while refusing to work with the Assad regime
  • Time is running out for survivors who remain trapped under the rubble for over 48 hours.