At least 29,605 people were killed by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Turkey earlier this week, the country’s disaster agency said on Sunday.
Last Monday’s magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, affected more than 13 million people across 10 provinces, also including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.
Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, also felt the strong tremors that struck Turkey in the space of less than 10 hours.
More than 233,000 search and rescue personnel are currently working in the field, according to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).
Almost 148,000 people have been evacuated from quake-hit regions so far, AFAD said.
Over 2,500 personnel and 384 vehicles have been dispatched to the region for psychosocial support services, according to the disaster agency.
Citing Foreign Ministry data, the disaster agency said 9,369 foreign aid workers were dispatched to the disaster zone.
3 times stronger than 1999 earthquake
The powerful twin earthquakes which hit southern Turkey earlier this week were three times stronger than the major 1999 Marmara earthquake in the country’s northwest, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.
In earlier remarks on Friday, Erdogan said the history of Turkey is being challenged by one of its biggest disasters, referring to the quakes in the country’s southern provinces.
Also on Thursday, Erdogan said the state has mobilized all its means to help the victims.
To inspect the ongoing search, rescue, and relief efforts, Erdogan has so far visited Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Adana, Gaziantep, Osmaniye, Kilis, Adiyaman, and Malatya, where he met earthquake victims.
He visited other quake-hit southern provinces of Diyarbakir and Sanliurfa on Saturday.
The Turkish parliament on Thursday approved a three-month state of emergency to speed up aid efforts.
The country is also observing seven days of national mourning in the wake of the disaster.
Condolences have poured in from around the world expressing solidarity with Turkey with many countries sending rescue teams and aid.
CURRENTPH NEWS SERVICE