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Turkey, Syria quake toll tops 2,200; second jolt felt

ANKARA, February 6, 2023

More than 2,200 people were killed and thousands injured on Monday when a huge earthquake struck central Turkey and northwest Syria, pulversing apartment blocks and heaping more destruction on Syrian cities already devastated by years of war, Reuters reported.
 
The magnitude 7.8 quake, which hit in the early darkness of a winter morning, worst to strike Turkey this century. It was also felt in Cyprus and Lebanon. It was followed in the early afternoon by another large quake, magnitude 7.7.
 
It was not immediately clear how much damage had been done by the second quake, also felt across the region as rescue workers were struggling to pull casualties from rubble in bitter weather.
 
In Turkey, the death toll stood at 1,498, the disaster agency said. At least 716 people were killed in Syria, according to figures from the Damascus government and the United Nations.
 
Poor internet connections and damaged roads between some of the worst-hit cities in Turkey's south, homes to millions of people, hindered efforts to assess and address the impact.
 
Temperatures in some areas were expected to fall to near freezing overnight, worsening conditions for people trapped under rubble or left homeless. 
 
Rain was falling on Monday after snowstorms swept the country at the weekend.
 
It is already the highest death toll from an earthquake in Turkey since 1999, when a tremor of similar magnitude devastated the heavily populated eastern Marmara Sea region near Istanbul, killing more than 17,000.
 
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who is preparing for a tough election in May, called it a historic disaster and the worst earthquake to hit Turkey since 1939, but said authorities were doing all they could.
 
"Everyone is putting their heart and soul into efforts although the winter season, cold weather and the earthquake happening during the night makes things more difficult," he stated.
 
Turkish state broadcaster TRT showed a building collapse in the southern province of Adana after the second quake. It was not immediately clear if it was evacuated.
 
In Syria, already wrecked by more than 11 years of civil war, the health ministry said 461 people had been killed and more than 1,326 injured. 
 
Erdogan said over 1,000 people were killed, 5,383 injured, and 2,818 buildings had collapsed in Turkey.
 
He could not predict how much the death toll would rise as search and rescue efforts continued.
 
About 45 countries have offered help to Turkey in recovery efforts, he said.
 
In Syria, already wrecked by more than 11 years of civil war, the health ministry said more than 326 people had been killed and 1,042 injured. In the Syrian rebel-held northwest, rescuers said 255 people had died.



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