Ankara/ Damascus (Web Desk/Agencies): The death toll from earthquakes, that struck Turkiye and Syria on Monday, has soared above 16,000 as the search and rescue operations are underway to save the survivors trapped under debris in freezing weather.
According to Turkiye’s Disaster Management Authority (AFAD), 12,873 people had died in the country from Monday’s quakes, while 3,162 people have died in Syria, bringing the confirmed total to 16, 035.
The Syrian Civil Defence group continued search operations through the night in rebel-held parts of Syria as the rescue effort neared the 72-hour mark that disaster experts consider the most likely period to save lives.
“We are racing against time. Every minute counts,” tweeted the opposition group, who are also known as the White Helmets.
The group said hundreds of people remain trapped in the rubble in the town of Jandires in the province of Aleppo.
The death toll could further surge as rescue workers continue search for survivors under the rubbles of thousands of toppled buildings despite freezing-cold weather.
Relatives of victims, and global rescue teams including from Pakistan have also joined the rescue efforts in the worst-hit cities.
Meanwhile, Countries and organizations from across the globe have responded to the crisis with money, equipment and boots on the ground.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates up to 23 million people could be affected by the earthquake. The situation is particularly dire in Syria, where the UN says nearly 70% of the population was in need of humanitarian assistance before the quake — an issue that has only been compounded by the tragedy.
As per AFAD, the 7.8 magnitude quake struck at 4.17 a.m. (0117GMT) and was centered in the Pazarcik district in Türkiye’s southern province of Kahramanmaras. The quake occurred at a depth of 7 kilometers (4.3 miles).
AFAD said in a statement that 78 aftershocks occurred following the earthquake. Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakır, Adana, Adıyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Hatay, and Kilis provinces are heavily affected by the quake.