At least 2,379 people were killed and 14,483 others were injured in 10 provinces of Turkey to two strong earthquakes that jolted the southern part of the country Monday, said Vice President Fuat Oktay.
Early Monday morning, a powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province and strongly shook several other provinces, including Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Adana, Adiyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Hatay and Kilis.
Then at 13.24 p.m. (1024GMT), a 7.6 magnitude quake centered in Kahramanmaras’s Elbistan district struck the region.
Oktay said a total of 7,840 people have been rescued from the rubble as 11,022 search and rescue teams are working in the field.
He said 338,000 earthquake victims have been housed in dormitories, universities and shelters.
More than 25,000 people, including Turkish soldiers, are currently carrying out search and rescue operations in the affected regions, Orhan Tatar, risk reduction general manager of the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), said earlier in the day.
He added that 250 million Turkish liras (about $13.3 million) in emergency funds had been sent to the provinces in the disaster area so far.
As a “purely precautionary decision,” the Turkish Petroleum Pipeline Company (BOTAS) stopped the flow of crude oil in the region, Tatar added.
There is currently no tsunami threat to Türkiye’s Eastern Mediterranean coasts, AFAD said.
‘Biggest disaster’ since 1939 Erzincan earthquake
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that with the quake, Turkey was shaken by the “biggest disaster” since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake.
“Our state has taken action with all its institutions since the earthquake. All resources have been mobilized,” he said at the AFAD office in the capital Ankara, where he was coordinating the rescue and relief work.
Erdogan also called on the nation to be of “one heart,” saying: “I hope we will leave these disastrous days behind in unity and solidarity as a country and nation.”
The president spoke to the mayors of Adana, Osmaniye, Hatay and Kilis on the phone and learned about search and rescue efforts, according to the presidency.
Türkiye will observe seven days of national mourning following the deadly earthquakes.
“Due to the earthquakes that took place in our country on Feb. 6, a national mourning period was declared for seven days. Our flag will be hoisted at half-mast until sunset on Sunday, Feb. 12, all over our country and in our foreign representations,” Erdogan said on Twitter.
Earlier Monday, Oktay told a news conference that Erdogan has been following and managing official efforts since the initial quake struck.
He added that Hatay Airport is currently closed to flights, saying they have also closed airports in Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep to civil flights.
Oktay said that 102 mobile base stations have been sent to the earthquake zones so far.
He also called on all media outlets, institutions and organizations to rely on official statements to guard against misinformation.
National Education Minister Mahmut Ozer said education in Türkiye is suspended until next Monday, Feb. 13.
Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoglu said all national sports events in Turkey have been suspended until further notice.
The earthquake was also felt in several neighboring countries in the region including Lebanon and Syria.
CurrentPH News Service with ANADOLU