BREAKING UPDATE: Devastating Turkey and Syria quake death toll now more than 17,000

More than 15,000 now confirmed dead in catastrophic Turkey and Syria quakes

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has witnessed the scenes for himself. Sasa Dzambic Photography/

UPDATE February 9 (1.15pm) – More than 17,000 people are now confirmed to have died in Monday’s earthquakes.

The devastating earthquakes which struck Turkey and northern Syria on Monday has now claimed in excess of 17,000 lives.

The plight of hundreds of thousands of people left homeless by the quakes are growing more desperate by the hour, while hopes faded of many more people being found alive amid the ruins of cities.

Without shelter, water, fuel or electricity, the World Health Organization has said it fears many more survivors could yet lose their lives.

A total of six UN lorries carrying aid have now crossed the border from Turkey into Syria – the first international help people there have had.

Rescuers in both countries are continuing their painstaking work, but hopes are said to be fading fast for the many people still trapped under the rubble.

This has now been the biggest natural disaster to strike the region since 1999, when a similarly powerful quake killed more than 17,000 people in Turkey.

A number of British charities have now launched appeals to raise much-needed funds for all the people affected.

At least 15,000 people have now been confirmed dead in Turkey and northern Syria following the two huge earthquakes early on Monday, February 7.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan witnessed the scenes for himself yesterday, Wednesday, February 9, and has since been force to defend his government’s response to the catastrophic earthquakes.

According to the BBC, Mr Erdogan has said it was impossible to prepare for the scale of the disaster.

Mr Erdogan, who declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces and sent troops to help, visited Kahramanmaras to view the damage and see the rescue and relief effort.

Critics have claimed that the emergency services’ response was too slow and the government was poorly prepared.

Mr Erdogan accepted the government had encountered some problems, but said the situation was now “under control”.

The confirmed death toll in Turkey alone has risen to 12,391 by this morning, Thursday, February 9, the Disaster Management Authority confirmed to Reuters.

That figure is up more than 30% on yesterday’s toll.

There have been similar scenes and complaints in neighbouring Syria, whose north was hard hit by Monday’s quake and where the death toll had climbed to at least 2,950 by yesterday, according to the government and a rescue service operating in the rebel-held northwest.

The EU has confirmed it will send €3.5m (£3.1m) in aid to Syria following a government request for assistance, but said the aid must be delivered to both government- and rebel-controlled areas.

More than 1,500 people have died in Idlib province alone and an adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said sanctions were stopping Syria from receiving the aid it needed.

Thousands of survivors in both countries have been spending a third night in freezing conditions, with hope now fading fast for many trapped under the rubble.

A World Health Organization official has warned there could be significant injuries caused by freezing temperatures among survivors of the quakes.

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Written by

Simon Smedley

Reporter - Euro Weekly News