The death toll from a magnitude 7.8 earthquake and its aftershocks, which struck the southeastern region of Turkey along the border with Syria, has continued to rise.
The first earthquake struck at 4:17am (01:17 GMT) on Monday and was centred in the Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province. Less than 12 hours later, a second 7.6 magnitude tremor struck the same region. More than 100 aftershocks were recorded following the quakes with officials urging people not to enter damaged buildings due to the risks.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
Which areas were affected?
In a statement carried by the state-run Anadolu Agency, Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) listed the affected regions so far as Kahramanmaras, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Adana, Adiyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Hatay and Kilis. Turkey has declared a three-month state of emergency in the 10 quake-hit provinces.
Thousands of people have also been affected across the border in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Latakia. The areas affected by the earthquakes on the Syrian side are divided between government-controlled territory and the country’s last opposition-held pocket of land, encircled by Russian-backed government forces.
Earthquake death toll
At least 41,020 deaths have been reported in Turkey, while 5,800 people have died in Syria. The death toll is likely to keep rising.
Hopes of finding people alive have dimmed and experts fear the toll could rise sharply.
Turkish authorities say some 13.5 million people have been affected in an area spanning roughly 450km (280 miles) from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east, and 300km (186 miles) from Malatya in the north to Hatay in the south.
International aid amid devastation
Turkey’s disaster management agency said more than 110,000 rescue personnel would be taking part in the effort with the assistance of more than 5,500 vehicles, including tractors, cranes, bulldozers and excavators. The foreign ministry said 95 countries have offered help.
Even though experts say trapped people could survive for a week or more, the chances of finding survivors in the freezing temperatures are dimming, with emergency crews now starting to shift the focus to demolishing dangerously unstable structures.
Volunteers from across Syria and Turkey have travelled many miles to help victims of Monday’s earthquakes in any way they can. Away from the affected regions, people have rushed to donate blood, clothing and food for survivors.
Humanitarian organisations have said the earthquake has added another layer to the suffering of the population in northwestern Syria, where some 4.1 million people require assistance.
“As many as 5.3 million people in Syria may have been left homeless by the earthquake,” the Syria representative of the UN high commissioner for refugees, Sivanka Dhanapala, told a news briefing.
“People are traumatised, they feel helpless,” Adnan Hazem, the Syria spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told Al Jazeera.
Before-and-after satellite images give an idea of the scale of destruction in the towns and cities across the affected regions in Turkey. Drag to the right below to see how entire buildings in Islahiye have collapsed. [Handout: Maxar Technology via Reuters]
100+ powerful aftershocks
Since February 6, Turkey has been hit by more than 100 aftershocks of magnitude 4 and greater. Aftershocks are smaller earthquakes that occur in the same general area after a big earthquake.
At least 81 magnitude-4 quakes, 20 magnitude-5 quakes, three magnitude-6 quakes and two magnitude-7 quakes have been recorded in southeast Turkey since Monday.
The animated map below shows a time-lapse of all these quakes:
Cold weather hampering rescue efforts
Rescuers are working in freezing temperatures to dig through the remains of buildings flattened by the earthquakes.
More bad weather is expected to hit the region, further hampering rescue operations. Downed buildings and destroyed roads have also made it difficult to find survivors and get crucial aid into affected areas. Several airports have also been closed after being damaged by the earthquakes.
The earthquake’s epicentre is home to millions of Syrian refugees living in Turkey outside the city of Gaziantep. Thousands of residents have been left without shelter in freezing temperatures.
Syrian refugees make up more than 1.7 million of the 15 million people inhabiting the 10 provinces affected by the earthquake, United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said.
Strongest earthquake in Turkey since 1999
Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones. Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake is the most powerful to hit the country since 1999.
In August 1999, a powerful magnitude 7.6 earthquake shook Marmara, a densely populated region to the south of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, for 45 seconds. Within days, the official death toll stood at 17,500.
Here’s a quick round-up of Turkey’s worst quakes of the past 25 years: