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Turkey-Syria Earthquake: Death toll surpasses 46,000 — three more people rescued


On 6 February, a disastrous 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and neighboring Syria, causing devastation and a combined death toll surpassing 46,000 to date.

It was revealed that voices could still be heard under the rubble on 13 February, and the combined death toll from the disastrous Earthquake crossed 46,000 people — 40,642 people in Turkey and more than 5,800 in Syria have been found dead.

Over a week after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Southern Turkey and Syria, rescue teams have saved several survivors from under the rubble in Turkey in recent days while tens of thousands have been announced dead. The rescue phase is beginning to end, so now the aid’s focus is to find shelter for the survivors in Turkey and Syria.

Turkey-Syria Earthquake
Photo by Turkish Red Crescent

In a live broadcast on 13 February, the CNN affiliate, CNN Turk, showed search and rescue aids trying to save two sisters from under the rubble in two areas of the Kahramanmaras region. However, on the same day, United Nations (UN) aid chief Martin Griffiths said the rescue phase was “coming to a close” when he visited the Syrian city of Aleppo.

“Now the humanitarian phase – the urgency of providing shelter, psycho-social care, food, schooling, and a sense of future for these people – that’s our obligation now,” he continued.

Rescue Stories

Rescue workers in Turkey pulled at least three people from the rubble over 11 days after the quake

Hakan Yasinoglu was stuck under a flattened building in the Hatay Province for more than 11 days (278 hours) when rescue workers reached on Friday.

Teenager Osman Halebiye and Mustafa Avci, 34, were also saved in Antakya.

“I had completely lost all hope. This is a true miracle,” Mr. Avci’s father told Reuters news agency.


“I thought nobody could be saved alive from there,” he added. Mr. Avci’s daughter was only a few hours old when the Earthquake struck, and as he was loaded onto a stretcher by paramedics he was connected with his child via video call.

His wife, Bilge Avci, managed to avoid the earthquake’s devastation and escaped with their child – but Mr. Avci got trapped under the rubble, according to local media. Mr. and Mrs. Avci – and baby Almile – were reunited late on Friday at a hospital in the southern city of Mersin.

More Rescue Efforts

On 14 February, emergency workers saved a 35-year-old woman who state broadcaster, TRT Haber, said was believed to have been buried for approximately 205 hours. She was rescued 8 days after the quake hit.

On the same day, two brothers, Muhammed Enes Yeninar, 17,  and his brother Abdulbaki Yennir, 21, were also rescued from beneath collapsed buildings according to Haber.

Moreover, according to CNN Turk, an 18-year-old boy and a man were also rescued from the rubble on Monday, but in the Turkish city of Adiyaman, Ukraine’s rescue team saved a woman in the southern province of Hatay.

In the same province, a 13-year-old boy, identified by only his first name, Kaan, was also pulled from the rubble.

In the Gaziantep province, a woman was found alive in a five-story building by coal miners who created tunnels with wooden supports. 


Furthermore, in Antakya, a Syrian man and a young woman were rescued after over 200 hours in the rubble. 

However, not everyone survived the quake and it’s reported that there’ll be subsequent financial damage in Turkey. 

The aftermath of the Earthquake

Authorities reported that a Syrian newborn, Aya, whose mother gave birth to her whilst trapped under the rubble, was found hours after the earthquake, still connected to her mother by an umbilical cord and although she’s doing well her mother did not survive.

Furthermore, a businessman in Northern Ireland, Mr. Urs, said that his sister and her husband, Arzu, and Niyazi Karatas, and their sons, Batuhan Dinc and M. Sahin Karatas, died after a building collapsed during the earthquake. 

UNICEF said it fears that the number of children found dead from the earthquake “will continue to grow” and a spokesperson for the UN children’s agency, James Elder, said 4.6 million children live in the 10 Turkish provinces hit by the earthquake while 2.5 million children in Syria have been affected. 

Acknowledging Turkey’s initial response to the quake, Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan, said during a televised speech in Ankara, “We are facing one of the greatest natural disasters not only in our country but also in the history of humanity.”

According to the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation, a nongovernmental business organization, the quake’s financial damage in Turkey alone estimates at $84.1 billion. 


Many buildings have collapsed across Turkey and Syria, and in the Turkish village of Polat, near to no houses were left standing.  Residents were forced to salvage refrigerators, washing machines, and more from their destroyed homes.

According to survivor, Zehra Kurukafa, not enough tents have arrived for the homeless, forcing families to share those available.

Kurukafa continued, “we sleep in the mud, all together with two, three, even four families.”

What are Turkey and Syria doing now to recover? 

Given the time that has passed and that temperatures have dropped to 6 degrees Celsius (21 degrees Fahrenheit), the hopes of finding more survivors are low. Thus, Turkey and Syria’s governments are now focusing on supporting the earthquake victims.

Turkey-Syria Earthquake- Death Toll Surpasses 46,000 — Three More People Rescued
People warm up next to a fire as they take a break from working on removing the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kahramanmaras on February 18, 2023 [Bulent Kilic/AFP]

Syrian president, Bashar Assad, has made the decision to open crossing points at Bab Al-Salam and Al Raée for an initial three-month period. According to AP News,  the UN has currently “only been allowed to deliver aid to the northwest Idlib area through a single crossing at Bab Al-Hawa.” The decision was welcomed by United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who said on Tuesday that the two new border crossings that’ll bring aid to Syria from Turkey “are open and goods are flowing.”


The World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted the need to “focus on trauma rehabilitation” when treating survivors.

Their representative in Turkey, Batyr Berdyklychev, spoke of the “growing problem” of a “traumatized population,” foreseeing the necessity for mental health services in the affected regions.

During a media briefing in Adana, Turkey, on Tuesday, Berdyklychev said, “people only now start realizing what happened to them after this shocking period.”

The WHO and Turkish authorities are negotiating to ensure that any survivors have access to mental health services, according to Berdyklychev.

He also noted that those moved to other parts of Turkey “will also need to be reached.”

Turkey-Syria Earthquake- Death Toll Surpasses 46,000 — Three More People Rescued
A girl holding sports balls standing at a camp for survivors, in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake, in Adiyaman, Turkey February 18, 2023 [Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters]

Turkish survivors are being taken to shelters in provinces that haven’t been affected. Speaking of his move from Adiyaman to west Turkey, 25-year-old Musa Bozkurt said, “we’re going away but we have no idea what will happen when we get there,” said the 25-year-old. “We have no goal. Even if there was [a plan], what good will it be after this hour? I no longer have my father or my uncle. What do I have left?” 

People are still being pulled from the rubble ten days after the catastrophic earthquake and both Turkey and Syria have a long road ahead to recover from its impacts.


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Tilly O'Brien

Tilly is a recent MA graduate in International journalism from the University of Leeds. She is an aspiring journalist who loves writing and has written for numerous digital publishers including BUST Magazine, The Tab Leeds, Stylist, and ITV Granada Reports. She hopes to use her journalism to make a positive impact on the world.
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