Devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria leave nearly 30,000 dead

KAHRAMANMARAS, Turkey (AA) —The devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday have claimed the lives of nearly 30,000 people, with the death toll in Turkey reaching 24,617 and over 4,500 reported in Syria.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said late Saturday that at least 24,617 people were killed by two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Turkey earlier this week.

Oktay said 32,071 search and rescue teams continue to work.

He added the Earthquake Crimes Investigation Departments have been established by the prosecutor’s offices on instructions of the Justice Ministry in 10 provinces affected by the quakes in the southeast.

He noted the responsibilities of 131 suspects in buildings that collapsed in the quakes were determined – one was arrested and arrest warrants have been issued for 113 others.

Earlier, The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said 80,278 people were injured in the earthquakes.

The 7.7- and 7.6-magnitude quakes, centered in Kahramanmaras province, were felt Monday by 13 million people across 10 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, felt the strong tremors that struck Turkey in the space of less than 10 hours.

At least 218,406 search and rescue personnel were working in the field, according to the AFAD statement.

Meanwhile, Environment, Urbanization, and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum said inspections at 171,882 buildings in 10 provinces were conducted.

“We determined that a total of 120,940 structures in 24,921 buildings collapsed, in need of urgent demolish, or severely damaged,” said Kurum.

He added that buildings examined in 10 provinces, 122,279 structures were slightly damaged and undamaged.

After the initial earthquake, an air aid corridor was created by the Turkish Armed Forces to deliver search and rescue teams to the region.

A large number of aircraft for transport, including A-400Ms, carried search and rescue teams and vehicles to the region. Ambulance planes are also using the air aid corridor.

The Turkish parliament approved a three-month state of emergency Thursday 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.

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