Death Toll Turkey, Syria Earthquakes Passes 20,000

Thursday, February 9, 2023 | Tag Cloud Tags: , ,

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

ISTANBUL/DAMASCUS (Worthy News) – The combined death toll of earthquakes shaking Turkey and Syria climbed to over 20,000 on Thursday, making them the deadliest in years, official estimates showed.

“We are facing one of the biggest disasters not only of the history of the Turkish Republic but also of … the world,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier.

On Monday, a magnitude 7.8 quake struck at 4:17 a.m. local time in the southern Turkish province of Kahramanmaras, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Hours later, a 7.5 magnitude quake hit some 96 kilometers (60 miles) away, followed by ongoing aftershocks felt as far as Israel.

Rescuers in both countries were racing to find survivors, but there was mounting concern that few more people would be found alive in the massive destruction.

The World Health Organization suggested that the number of fatalities of more than 20,000 could continue to rise as survivors struggle to find shelter, water, fuel, and electricity.

This week’s deaths in Turkey and Syria surpassed Japan’s Fukushima disaster of 2011, when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered a tsunami and killed more than 18,400 people.

Witnesses say thousands of buildings were toppled. In addition to the climbing death toll, tens of thousands of injuries have been reported.


Rescue workers worldwide were on the ground this week searching through debris for signs of life, sometimes discovering a newborn amid the stench of death.

But with widespread damage to infrastructure, relief still struggled to reach some devastated towns, including in wartorn Syria.

Yet aid trucks sent by the United National have entered rebel-held northwest Syria for the first time since the earthquakes.

Getting aid to the area has been made difficult because the U.N. was only authorized to deliver through one border crossing, which had suffered road damage, officials said.

While heart-wrenching, the earthquakes came after a turbulent two decades in which hundreds of thousands of people died in tremors shaking parts of this turbulent world, authorities say.

The worst in that period was in January 2010 in Haiti, where a magnitude 7.0 quake killed hundreds of thousands. Estimates for the death toll range significantly. The United Nations says about 220,000 people were killed, while the Haitian government puts the number at a staggering 316,000 dead in the impoverished nation.

Among other massive earthquakes, this last 25 years was the one in December 2004 in Indonesia: A magnitude 9.1 quake triggered an Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed about 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

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