Death toll tops 21,000 as rescuers pull more survivors from beneath collapsed buildings, almost four days after catastrophic earthquakes and series of aftershocks hit both countries.

President Erdogan has renewed a promise to quake survivors to rebuild destroyed homes within a year.
President Erdogan has renewed a promise to quake survivors to rebuild destroyed homes within a year. (Reuters)

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Death toll has risen to 17,674 and the number of injured hit 72,879 in the wake of Monday's powerful earthquakes in southern Türkiye, Vice President Fuat Oktay said. 

The disaster, described by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as "Disaster of the Century," also killed at least 3,377 people in neighbouring Syria, regime and opposition authorities reported, taking the combined toll to 21,051.

Here is how you can help the earthquake victims.

Following are the latest updates:

0200 GMT —  Türkiye teenager who drank 'urine to survive' is rescued after 94 hours

Turkish rescuers have pulled out a teenager alive from the rubble of a building in southern Gaziantep province, a miracle recovery that came after 94 hours of earthquakes which also saw the 17-year-old drinking his own "urine to survive."

Adnan Muhammet Korkut was rescued late on Thursday from the debris of an apartment in Sehitkamil district of Gaziantep, local media reported. 

In a viral social media video, Korkut told rescuers he drank his own urine to survive and "waited for you people to come."

"I drank my own urine to survive and I survived thanks to my God," he says in the video responding to a question.

"I waited for you guys to come, and you came, thank God. I thank all of you."

Full story here

2200 GMT — Teary father celebrates daughter's rescue by Türkiye miners

Turkish rescuers have pulled out alive a 16-year-old girl, more than 80 hours after the disaster struck, leaving her overjoyed father in tears and the grieving nation cheering an agonisingly rare piece of good news after Monday's earthquakes. 

The death toll across Türkiye and Syria climbed above 21,000, but the father of Melda Adtas felt nothing but relief.

"My dear, my dear!" he called out as rescuers pulled the teen out of the rubble and the watching crowd broke into applause.

It took rescue workers five painstaking hours to save her life after neighbours raised the alarm.

Full story here

2100 GMT — World Bank to provide Türkiye $1.78 billion in relief financing

The World Bank has said it is providing Türkiye with $1.78 billion in relief and recovery financing assistance as the country struggles with the aftermath of an earthquake that has killed over 20,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

The World Bank said in a statement that $780 million will become available for Ankara immediately, as the funds will be diverted from two existing World Bank loan projects in Türkiye. 

Another $1 billion in assistance for Türkiye's recovery and reconstruction is also being prepared but will take more time to arrange, a World Bank spokesperson said. 

READ MORE: Turks in US mobilise in large numbers to collect aid for quake victims

US to provide $85 million in humanitarian aid to Türkiye, Syria

The US Agency for InternationalDevelopment [USAID] has said it will provide $85 million in urgent humanitarian assistance to Türkiye and Syria following devastating earthquakes in the region this week.

"USAID is providing emergency food and shelter for refugees and newly displaced people, winter supplies to help families brave the cold, critical health care services to provide trauma support, safe drinking water to prevent disease, and hygiene and sanitation assistance to keep people safe and healthy," USAID said in a statement.

READ MORE: Teary father celebrates daughter's rescue by Türkiye miners

1730 GMT — Turkish FM, US secretary of state discuss situation in quake-hit Türkiye

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about the situation in Türkiye’s earthquake-hit southeastern region in a phone call.

Cavusoglu and Blinken also discussed the ongoing relief operations in the affected areas.

Cavusoglu also separately held phone calls with his Portuguese counterpart Joao Gomes Cravinho, Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom, Azerbaijani Emergency Situations Minister Kemalettin Haydarov, and Afghanistan's acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, according to the Turkish diplomatic sources.

The earthquakes have caused great destruction in 10 provinces.
The earthquakes have caused great destruction in 10 provinces. (Reuters)

1700 GMT - 'Where is Miral?' asks a 3-year-old boy pulled alive from debris

Tariq Haidar, 3, was pulled alive from the rubble some 42 hours after a devastating earthquake destroyed his family home in the Syrian town of Jandaris. His family couldn't be saved.

Orphaned by the earthquake that hit Syria and Türkiye in the dead of night on Monday, Haidar was brought to a hospital where doctors were forced to amputate his left leg. They are trying to save his right.

"As soon as he woke up, and saw us in front of him, he asked: 'Where is Miral?' . 

We asked 'Who is Miral?'. 

He said: 'My sister, she was sleeping next to me but she wasn't answering me'," said Malek Qasida, a nurse caring for him.

"They pulled out his father and two of his siblings before him, dead," added Qasida, speaking at the hospital where Haidar was in intensive care, his amputated leg heavily bandaged.

The bodies of his mother and a third sibling were recovered from the rubble later, people in the area said. 

"There are hundreds of children still under the rubble," Qasida said.

1645 GMT - Germany to increase Syria aid by 26 mln euros

Germany will increase the amount of humanitarian assistance it provides in Syria by 26 million euros ($28 million) to respond to the growing needs of Syrians after a deadly quake.

A statement from the German embassy in Beirut said the funds were needed "especially in the affected areas in the northwestern parts of the country", home to many Syrians displaced during a 12-year civil war.

"Germany can build on close ties with international organizations and NGOs in northwestern Syria, as it has already been providing extensive humanitarian assistance there," the statement said.

A Rescue worker digs to reach children under the rubble of a collapsed building in the rebel-held town of Jindayris on February 8, 2023, two days after a deadly earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria.
A Rescue worker digs to reach children under the rubble of a collapsed building in the rebel-held town of Jindayris on February 8, 2023, two days after a deadly earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria. (AFP)

1642 GMT - UK increases funding to support search and rescue efforts in Syria

Britain said it was committing additional funding - at least 3 million pounds ($3.65 million) - to support search and rescue operations and emergency relief in Syria following earthquakes in the region.

"Given the magnitude of the earthquakes and difficulties in accessing affected areas in North West Syria, the UK will be providing The White Helmets with additional funding to aid their major search-and-rescue operations," Britain said in a statement.

1640 GMT - First ladies voice solidarity with Türkiye

In separate phone calls with Turkish first lady Emine Erdogan, Jordanian Queen Rania al Abdullah, Azerbaijani first lady Mehriban Aliyeva, war-hit Ukraine's Olena Zelenska, Uzbekistan's first lady Ziroat Mirziyoyeva expressed condolences for those who lost their lives in the earthquakes and wished recovery to the injured.

1634 GMT - 'The worst earthquake' - Erdogan

The earthquakes have caused great destruction in 10 provinces and “can be described as the disaster of the century,” Erdogan has said, while inspecting search and rescue efforts in the province of Osmaniye.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are taking part in relief efforts. All kinds of teams and vehicles from across the country have been dispatched to the region,” he said.

“Last Monday, we were confronted with the worst earthquake this region has ever seen in its history," Erdogan said after visiting the earthquake victims at a hospital in Kilis.

1505 GMT - Baby pulled alive from debris 82 hours

A 6-month-old baby was pulled alive from earthquake rubble of a building after 82 hours in southeastern Türkiye as rescuers continue to work to save many lives from collapsed buildings.

The governor of northern Ordu province, Tuncay Sonel, said on Twitter that Yigit Calis, who was rescued from under the debris in the southeastern Adiyaman province, was taken to medical teams.

1445 GMT - Iraq to send two relief planes to Turkey

Iraq has decided to send two planes loaded with relief, food, and medicine aid to affected victims, according to INA, the Iraqi official news agency.

“This came based on the directives of the (Iraqi) Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al Sudani, and included air and land shipments destined for Syria and Türkiye,” Haider Majeed, spokesman for the Iraqi Prime Ministry Secretariat said in a statement.

Over the past two days, 13 Arab countries announced relief air bridges with Türkiye and Syria to take part in the rescue and relief operations.

These countries include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Lebanon, Algeria, Jordan, Bahrain, Libya, Tunisia, Palestine, and Iraq.

1435 GMT - Greece shows solidarity with Türkiye

Greece has shown strong solidarity with Türkiye after the earthquake.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotaki was among the leaders who called President Erdogan to convey condolences and support for the Turkish state and nation.

In an exclusive interview he gave to CNN International, he said: “Look, I think in these times of crisis, what is important to understand is that at the end of the day, we are neighbors and we need to help each other through difficult times".

“And again, I will repeat to you what I’ve said publicly, that Greek and Turkish people are friends. We may have our differences politically, but at the end of the day, we have nothing to separate from the Turkish people,” Mitsotakis said.

1415 GMT - A toddler was rescued from the rubble after 81 hours

Besir Yildiz, 8, was rescued by the search and rescue teams in Türkiye’s southeastern city of Diyarbakir after three days under the rubble.

Yildiz was transferred to a nearby hospital.

1344 GMT - Seven Italians missing following quake

Seven Italians are missing following this week's deadly earthquake that hit Türkiye and Syria, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said at a news conference.

1253 GMT - No change in approach to Syria govt after earthquake - France

France's political approach to the Syrian government will not change, a foreign ministry spokesman said, adding that aid in response to the earthquake would go through non-governmental organisations and the United Nations mechanism.

"Our political approach is not changing and contrary to Bashar al Assad we are working in favour of the Syrian population," Deputy foreign ministry spokesman Francois Delmas told reporters in a briefing.

1230 GMT - Aid convoy reaches northwest Syria

An aid convoy has reached opposition-held northwestern Syria, the first since a devastating earthquake.

The delivery had been expected before Monday's quake but "It could be considered an initial response from the United Nations, and it should be followed, as we were promised, with bigger convoys to help our people," Mazen Alloush, a media officer at the crossing said. 

The aid delivery mechanism from Türkiye into opposition-held Syria through the Bab al Hawa crossing is the only way UN assistance can reach civilians without passing through areas controlled by Syrian government forces.

0945 GMT - Turkish search and rescue teams depart Kilis

Turkish search and rescue teams have completed their mission in Kilis province and will continue their tasks in other provinces, the disaster management agency AFAD has said.

0935 GMT - UN quake aid should reach Syria ‘today’

The United Nations said that it had received assurances aid would reach the earthquake-devastated areas of northwestern Syria through the sole authorised crossing from Türkiye “today”, demanding that the aid not be “politicised”.

“We were assured today that we would be able to get through the first assistance today” through the Bab al Hawa crossing, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, told reporters in Geneva.

0910 GMT - A rescue in Hatay at the 80th hour

Selma Hasar, 40, who was under the rubble in Hatay, was rescued 80 hours after the earthquake.

Erzurum AFAD, which went to the region to support search and rescue efforts, carried out a search operation after hearing Hasar's voice in the Odabasi Defne Teachers Site location.

After a long struggle, the teams reached Hasar, who was given first aid and moved to a hospital.

Search and rescue teams rescued 17-year-old Unzile Sevimli from the rubble 78 hours after two earthquakes shook southeastern Türkiye.
Search and rescue teams rescued 17-year-old Unzile Sevimli from the rubble 78 hours after two earthquakes shook southeastern Türkiye. (Cebrail Caymaz / AA)

0800 GMT - Turkish search and rescue teams complete their mission in Sanliurfa

Turkish search and rescue teams have completed their mission in Sanliurfa province and will continue their tasks in other provinces, the disaster management agency AFAD has said.

0743 GMT - Teenager pulled out from rubble after 78 hours

Unzile Sevimli, 17, in the Islahiye district of Gaziantep, which was affected by the earthquake, was pulled out alive 78 hours after the building debris. The search and rescue efforts of the teams continue in the district, which saw much destruction by the earthquakes in Kahramanmaras.

0627 GMT - Türkiye uses drone tech for communication in disaster areas

Türkiye has used for the first time its domestically made technology for drones to provide uninterrupted communication in disaster areas, the Turkish defence industry chief said.

"AKSUNGUR unmanned aerial vehicle both transmits snapshots and provides mobile phone communication service to our citizens in the region with carrying a base station on it," Ismail Demir said in a statement. 

0551 GMT - Taiwan's leadership to donate their month's salary to Türkiye

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and Vice President William Lai will each donate a month's salary for Turkish earthquake relief efforts, the presidential office has said, adding to existing aid already sent by the island.

Tsai and Lai, who is widely expected to stand for the presidency in elections due next year, "hope to do their part to help Türkiye rebuild its homeland as soon as possible", the presidential office said in a statement.

0537 GMT - Mother and son rescued at 68th hour

A 33 year-old mother, Serap Topal and her 5 year-old son, Mehmet Hamza Topal were rescued by the German and British rescue teams from under the rubble after 68 hours of the 7.7 magnitude Kahramanmaras earthquake in Türkiye. 

0530 GMT - Two rescued in Gaziantep after 76 hours

Three people were rescued from under rubble of a collapsed building in Gaziantep, Türkiye after three days.

0515 GMT - Young woman pulled alive from rubble after 70 hours

Leyla Akcam, 22, was rescued alive from the rubble 70 hours after the earthquake in Onikisubat district of Kahramanmaras province.

2132 GMT - Turkish Airlines resumes mass evacuation from quake-hit zones

Turkish Airlines (THY) Press Advisor Yahya Ustun announced that there will be 170 evacuation flights from the earthquake zone today.

In his statement on his social media account, Yahya Ustun shared the following information, stating that the evacuation flights, which started on February 8, will be completed with a total of 173 flights this morning:

"Our evacuation operation, which we started at 07:00 this morning, is being carried out as planned despite the winter conditions. As of 23.50, our 80 flights have been completed and we have delivered 14 thousand 68 citizens to Istanbul and Ankara. We have completed our remaining 93 flights until 07:00 on 9 February, and 16 flights are still waiting at the airports. We will also evacuate 1,500 of our citizens."

Explaining the number of flights to be made from the disaster area today, Ustun said, "We will evacuate our citizens with 170 flights planned between 07:00 on February 9 and 07:00 on February 10."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies