UPDATED 2/13, 2:07 p.m. ET: As of Monday, the total number of people killed in the earthquake has topped 36,000. Per a report from USA Today, that number is expected to continually grow in the coming days as regional officials continue to grapple with the ongoing tragedy.
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UPDATED 2/9, 4:30 p.m. ET: On Thursday, rescuers in Turkey and Syria pulled more survivors from beneath the rubble caused by the recent earthquake and aftershocks but now the death toll has risen to over 20,000.
Per CBS News, the earthquake is now one of the deadliest worldwide in over a decade, with the deaths surpassing the toll of the 2011 earthquake in Fukushima, Japan and the subsequent tsunami that killed over 18,400. “The first 72 hours are considered to be critical,” said natural hazards expert Steven Godby, from Nottingham Trent University. “The survival ratio on average within 24 hours is 74%, after 72 hours it is 22% and by the fifth day it is 6%.”
The death toll is expected to continue to rise. On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 16,546 people were killed in the country, and over 66,000 have been injured. 3,577 people have been reported dead in Syria, meanwhile, with over 6,300 injured. Catastrophe risk firm Risklater said the total number of deaths from the earthquake could eventually reach over 45,000.
Per a report from the Associated Press, this now makes the tragedy the deadliest earthquake worldwide in over 10 years. In recent days, ongoing rescue efforts have been complicated by a number of factors, including weather and war. Meanwhile, the United Nations said earlier this week it was “fully committed’ to providing support for relief efforts.
“Our teams are on the ground assessing the needs and providing assistance,” a rep for UN Secretary General António Guterres said. “We count on the international community to help the thousands of families hit by this disaster, many of whom were already in dire need of humanitarian aid in areas where access is a challenge.”
President Biden has also addressed the disaster, saying in an official briefing room release that he and Jill “were deeply saddened” by the loss of life. Biden also confirmed that his administration was “working closely” with Turkey, including via his authorization of an “immediate U.S. response.” Additionally, U.S. humanitarian partners are providing assistance to those on the ground in Syria, Biden said.
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According to the United States Geological Survey, the epicenter of the quake was just over 14 miles east of Nurdağı in the Gaziantep province of Turkey. The Associated Press reported that hundreds of buildings had been destroyed by the quake, with more than 1,500 people confirmed to have died at the time of this writing, while hundreds more are likely trapped beneath the extensive damage.
Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, confirmed in a statement on Monday that he had been briefed on the earthquake, adding that immediate action was being taken involving multiple agencies including the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority and the Turkish Armed Forces.
The office of Bashar Hafez al-Assad, president of Syria, said in a separate statement that an emergency Council of Ministers had been held on Monday morning. The “most affected” regions in Syria were subsequently determined to be Aleppo, Hama, and Latakia. In response, an emergency action plan was being carried out nationally.
The White House has also addressed the earthquake, with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan confirming that President Biden had directed the U.S. Agency for International Development and other federal partners to look into how best the U.S. could assist those affected by the disaster.
“The United States is profoundly concerned by the reports of today’s destructive earthquake in Turkiye and Syria,” Sullivan said. “We stand ready to provide any and all needed assistance.”