UPDATE, MAR 1:
Turkey has raised its death toll from the February 6 earthquake to 45,089, raising the total to 51,0003.
UPDATE, FEB 27:
Turkey has raised its death toll to 44,374, taking the total for the February 6 earthquake to 50,288.
Yunus Sezer, the head of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, said search and rescue work has been completed in almost 21,000 buildings.
At least 9,900 aftershocks have been recorded since the two major quakes, he said.
UPDATE, FEB 25:
The death toll from the February 6 earthquakes across southern Turkey and northwest Syria has reached 50,136.
Turkey has recorded 44,218 deaths, and there are 5,914 across opposition-held and Assad-controlled areas of Syria.
More than 173,000 buildings in Turkey collapsed or suffered severe damage. Almost 530,000 people were evacuated, and more than 1.9 million people took refuge in temporary shelters, hotels, and public facilities.
UPDATE, FEB 22:
The death toll in Turkey from Monday’s follow-up earthquake has risen to eight with up to 300 others injured.
UPDATE, FEB 21:
Southern Turkey has suffered another earthquake.
The 6.4-magnitude quake struck at 8:04 p.m. in Hatay Province. The epicenter was 10 miles southwest of Antakya, formerly known as Antioch, and even closer to Samandag.
At least six people were killed and 294 wounded in Hatay. More are trapped in the rubble as at least 28 buildings collapsed.
At least 150 were injured in the opposition-controlled area of northwest Syria, many in a stampede of people seeking safety.
Local officials in Hatay said the tremor felt just as powerful as or even stronger than the February 6 earthquakes.
“All of sudden, I felt like the earth had been pulled out under my feet,” said Mehmet Ali Gumus, a lawyer in Samandag, a town on the Mediterranean coast. “I could not even walk straight to the door just one meter away.”
UPDATE 0822 GMT:
The Assad regime is continuing to block or seize aid for opposition-controlled areas in northwest Syria.
Fabrizio Carboni, the regional director of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said, “We tried to get into Idlib [Province] through crossline [points] and so far we’ve been blocked, unfortunately….[We are] hoping that this could change soon.”
On Thursday, the regime finally allowed a convoy from Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria to cross — but only after seizing 40 of 100 fuel trucks.
The other 60 trucks, which had been waiting for five days, were able to reach Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria near the Turkish border.
Journalist Elizabeth Tsurkov reports:
Comment by a friend living in Damascus "those who continue to breathe in Syria are not better off than those whom the ground swallowed up"
He was detained by the Assad regime & tortured for providing humanitarian assistance to civilians who escaped besieged rebel-held areas. pic.twitter.com/aHsNEXBMa6
— Elizabeth Tsurkov🌻 (@Elizrael) February 16, 2023
The UN said on Friday that 178 of its aid trucks have crossed the border from Turkey into opposition-controlled northwest Syria since February 9.
However, the belated assistance is covering only a small fraction of the need. UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said 50,000 households need tents or emergency shelter and at least 88,000 households need mattresses, thermal blankets, and clothing. Hospitals and medical centers “are overstretched and under-resourced”.
Meanwhile, political economist Karam Shaar asks what the Assad regime is doing with aid in its own areas.
He notes that the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is by headed by an Assad crony, nightclub and casino owner Khaled Hboubabti, and
the Syrian Trust for Development, founded and led by Bashar al-Assad’s wife Asma.
I scoured the web in search of photos showing how the 5k tonnes of bilateral earthquake relief aid sent from 25 countries to regime-held Syria is being distributed.
I found only two measly photos.
Where's all the aid?
— Karam Shaar كرم شعّار (@Karam__Shaar) February 17, 2023
UPDATE, FEB 18:
The death toll has reached 45,472, with 39,672 confirmed fatalities in Turkey and at least 5,800 across northern Syria.
UPDATE 1143 GMT:
A total of 142 aid trucks, provided by six UN agencies, have now crossed into northwest Syria from Turkey.
On Thursday, 22 trucks passed through the Bab al-Hawa border point, while two with tents crossed over at Bab al-Salama.
UPDATE, FEB 17:
The death toll has reached 43,844, with 38,044 fatalities in Turkey and at least 5,800 people across northwest Syria.
Despite the winding down of rescue operations, individual stories of survival continue.
A 12-year-old boy is among three people pulled out alive after nearly 11 days under earthquake rubble in Turkey’s Hatay province ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/uOrNTm8EZt
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) February 17, 2023
Pulled out from rubble in the Turkish city of Antakya after more than 260 hours, Mustafa Avci requested the mobile phone of a rescuer to call his brother and ask about family members.
“Have they all survived?” he asked. “Let me hear their voices.”
He learned that all his relatives are safe.
A 17-year-old girl was saved from the ruins of a collapsed apartment block in Turkey’s southeastern Kahramanmaras Province. About 10 hours later, another woman, Neslihan Kilic, was rescued.
Kilic’s brother-in-law said:
We had prepared her grave and we asked the rescue workers to stop digging as we feared they would damage the remaining corpses under the rubble. Moments later, her voice was heard from under the ruins of the building.
Her husband and two children are still missing.
UPDATE 1154 GMT:
A report for the US outlet NBC examines how one town near the epicenter of Turkey’s earthquake escaped serious damage — possibly because its building program was not riddled with the corruption seen in other areas.
No deaths, no buildings collapsed in one town near #Turkeyquake epicenter, officials told me.
One said that current & previous mayors didn't allow for illegal construction.
— Kristina Jovanovski (@kjovano) February 15, 2023
UPDATE 1151 GMT:
Another miracle rescue in Turkey….
— TRT World (@trtworld) February 16, 2023
UPDATE, FEB 16:
The death toll has risen to 41,987, with 36,187 confirmed fatalities in Turkey and 5,800 across northwest Syria.
Rescue operations are winding down, with the focus shifting to provision of shelter and food.
However, there are still some miracle survivals.
A mother and her two children were rescued in Antakya after more than nine days under the rubble.
Ela, her son, and her daughter are dehydrated but in “reasonable condition”.
Rescuer Mehmet Eryilmaz said the woman, Ela, asked what day it was as she was pulled from the ruins.
First, I held her hand. We talked, chatted and calmed [her] down. After that, we continued our work….We are very happy; it’s the fifth life we saved.
And a woman was saved in the Kharamanmaras area near the epicenter of the quake.
Rescuers defy odds, save 42-year-old Melike Imamoglu from rubble in Kahramanmaras, Türkiye, 222 hours after twin quakes hit the country on Feb. 6
— ANADOLU AGENCY (@anadoluagency) February 15, 2023
UPDATE 0941 GMT:
The UN’s humanitarian agency estimates that because of limited resources, rescuers in opposition-controlled parts of northwest Syria were able to reach only 5% of affected areas in time to save survivors.
UPDATE 0532 GMT:
The first UN aid convoy crossed into northwest Syria on Tuesday, but for many of the 4 million in the opposition-held areas, it is far too late.
Rescuers in Jindires have still not received heavy equipment. Their effort was called off last Friday because they could not dig further to reach any survivors.
“We are vegetable sellers, our shops were underneath our homes, and now we lost everything,” said Alan Ahmed, whose house was destroyed. “We are sleeping in the streets. No one from the international community is helping us.”
Nizar al-Mared said, “We have Jinno heaters, no blankets, nothing. Just a tent over our heads. Our shops were destroyed. Who will help us rebuild our lives?”
Local officials say more than 1,200 people were killed in the town, which had a population of about 15,000 before the Syrian uprising of 2011.
UPDATE, FEB 15:
The death toll has risen to 41,219, with 35,418 fatalities in Turkey and at least 5,801 across northwest Syria.
But nine more people have been rescued eight days after the earthquake.
Among those saved on Tuesday are Muhammed Cafer, 18, seen moving his fingers as he was lifted from rubble; Muhammed Yeninar, 17; and his brother Baki, 21. All were found alive in Turkey’s Kahramanmaraş Province.
A 35-year-old woman was pulled alive from the ruins of an apartment block in Hatay Province.
Some rescue teams are now winding down operations amid temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius. The head of UN humanitarian operations, Martin Griffiths, said the rescue phase is “coming to a close”, and attention is turning to provision of shelter and food.
UPDATE 1609 GMT:
A 35-year-old woman in Turkey’s Kahramanmaraş Province has been rescued after 205 hours under rubble.
Rescuers in Turkish Kahramanmaraş with a lot of difficulties rescued a 35-year-old woman from under the rubble, who spent 205 hours under the ruins of the house. pic.twitter.com/w3xvfiV3Hf
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 14, 2023
UPDATE 1136 GMT:
Even as the Assad regime says it will accept two additional cross-border points from Turkey into northwest Syria for delivery of aid, it is blocking dozens of trucks from providing assistance from northeast Syria — and it is demanding most of the vital supplies.
A first convoy, organized by the Kurdish Red Crescent, was blocked in al-Tayha. The regime said half the supplies must be given to the Assad-controlled Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
A second convoy of 100 fuel trucks and two trucks of food and medical supplies, donated by civil society organizations and NGOs, was blocked at al-Tayha on February 10.
“The Syrian regime requested 80 percent of the aid, leaving us with only 20 percent to distribute to those affected by the crisis,” said Yasser Suleiman, deputy co-chair of the Kurish AANES General Council. “The AANES rejected this condition, because we consider it a form of extortion against the people of northeastern Syria.”
A third cross-line convoy of 30 fuel tanks and two trucks is being held up by the Turkish-backed opposition’s Syrian Interim Government, which expressed concern that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces were seeking political advantage with the supply.
UPDATE 1045 GMT:
Why did Russia and the Assad regime finally accept the reopening of two more crossings from Turkey into opposition-held northwest Syria?
The answer could have been France’s indication on Monday that, if there was no movement, it would defy Russia’s Security Council veto which led in 2020 to only one authorized crossing for UN aid.
French officials dismantled the Russian-regime narrative that Western sanctions were the main obstacle to aid.
"If you look at who is providing humanitarian relief for #Syria, 90%… is paid by the EU, U.S. Canada… Russia & China don't give money for #Syria."#France's @UN Ambassador, @NDeRiviere, citing a statistic I've been relaying over & over again this past week. pic.twitter.com/toVXtnTYKQ
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) February 13, 2023
UPDATE 0734 GMT:
The death toll has reached 37,457, with 31,643 fatalities in Turkey and at least 5,814 deaths across northwest Syria.
UPDATE 0728 GMT:
Will Todman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies reports a “striking conversation” with a friend in Damascus about an attempt to bring aid to regime-controlled northwest Syria.
The friend’s relative traveled to Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, to volunteer for a few days but “left in disgust” after only 24 hours.
He said that the aid he had taken was seized at a government checkpoint and soldiers were heavily restricting who could receive it. This was a big shock for him as he’s lived in Damascus throughout the conflict and said he had never witnessed such behavior for himself.
Todman’s friend said similar stories are spreading rapidly on social media, even among pro-regime groups: “He was far more critical of the regime over the phone to me than I’ve ever heard him, expressing palpable disgust.”
UPDATE, FEB. 14:
Under pressure from the international community, Bashar al-Assad says he will accept the reopening of two border crossings from Turkey into opposition-held northwest Syria.
After a closed-door Security Council meeting on Monday afternoon, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced Assad’s agreement for the Bab al-Salama and Al Ra’ee to be opened “for an initial period of three months to allow for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid”.
Russia, on behalf of the Assad regime, has cut the number of crossings for UN aid into northern Syria from four in 2014 to one in 2020.
While Moscow made no statement on Monday, the timing of Assad’s statement indicates that the Russians are not blocking the reopening of the two additional crossings.
The Assad regime had tried to stave off the issue by saying it would provide aid from its areas into opposition-held Idlib Province. But the Islamist bloc Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the leading faction in the area, said it would only accept aid from Turkey.
UPDATE 1508 GMT:
Miray, 6, has been rescued from the rubble of an apartment block in the city of Adiyaman in southern Turkey after being trapped for 178 hours.
Rescuers are close to reaching her older sister.
UPDATE 1504 GMT:
Footage from the BBC from opposition-controlled northwest Syria….
Not tents, no aid, no hope, our latest from NW Syria, where Idlib is enduring the earthquake's aftermath alone. With _@rachaelthorn Robbie Wright and Feras Kawaf pic.twitter.com/0woHpeNqfy
— Quentin Sommerville (@sommervilletv) February 13, 2023
UPDATE 0909 GMT:
The death toll has reached 34,179.
Turkish officials have confirmed 29,605 deaths. In northwest Syria, at least 3,160 people have perished in opposition-controlled areas and 1,414 in Assad-controlled territory.
UPDATE 0855 GMT:
Women in Turkey’s Hatay Province have been rescued after more than 175 hours of burial.
Naide Umay and Nuray Gurbuz were lifted on stretchers from underneath rubble.
Istanbul municipality rescuers pull 75-year-old woman still clinging to life out of rubble in southern Turkey more than a week after earthquake. pic.twitter.com/wiCgct6VaT
— Borzou Daragahi 🖊🗒 (@borzou) February 13, 2023
A father and daughter were also rescued in Hatay on Monday morning.
After 167 hours, a man was rescued in Antakya. At least 41 people were saved between the 141st and 163rd hours after the quake.
UPDATE 0845 GMT:
A total of 52 UN aid trucks have finally crossed from Turkey into opposition-held northwest Syria.
The trucks used the Bab al-Hawa crossing, the only one permitted by Russia on behalf of the Assad regime, to reach some of the 4 million people in Idlib Province.
The convoys included six trucks on Thursday, 14 on Friday, 22 trucks on Saturday and 10 on Sunday.
Six trucks are expected to cross on Monday.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield urged the Security Council to approve two additional cross-border points.
People in the affected areas are counting on us. They are appealing to our common humanity to help in their moment of need.
We cannot let them down — we must vote immediately on a resolution to heed the UN’s call for authorization of additional border crossings for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. We have the power to act. It’s time to move with urgency and purpose.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Ankara has offered the opening of two more border gates from the southern province of Kilis to northern Syria.
White Helmets rescuer Firas al-Khalifa said the area is in “post-catastrophe shock”.
The humanitarian situation is very dire. People are afraid to go back to their homes, which they are not sure are structurally sound. Many people fled and they have taken refuge in tents or schools or public parks.
There were convoys from Saudi Arabia, Kurdistan, Qatar and from the UN, but they are not enough for these large numbers of homeless people.
UPDATE 1542 GMT:
Video of a 10-year-old girl pulled alive from a collapsed building in Hatay Province in southeast Turkey, 147 hours after she was buried.
UPDATE 1540 GMT:
The death toll has risen to 33,179, with 29,605 fatalities in Turkey and 3,574 across northwest Syria.
UPDATE 1443 GMT:
A scene from northwest Syria….
“Son, Hamuday, my son… I swear to God I'm not leaving until I get you out."
One father, calling out to his son somewhere under the rubble in NW #Syria.
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) February 12, 2023
UPDATE 1303 GMT:
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca reports a baby girl has been pulled from the rubble “in the 150th hour” of her burial and was sent to Adana by helicopter ambulance for treatment.
Enkaz altından 150. saatte kurtarılan minik kız çocuğumuza ilk tıbbi müdahale Hatay Sahra Hastanemizde gerçekleştirildi. Bir çocuk hekimi olarak sürece nezaret ettik. Yavrumuz tedavi için helikopter ambulansla Adana’ya gönderildi. pic.twitter.com/lXFwND9i1G
— Dr. Fahrettin Koca (@drfahrettinkoca) February 12, 2023
UPDATE 1224 GMT:
The UN head of humanitarian operations, Martin Griffiths, tweets….
At the #Türkiye–#Syria border today.
We have so far failed the people in north-west Syria.
They rightly feel abandoned. Looking for international help that hasn’t arrived.
My duty and our obligation is to correct this failure as fast as we can.
That’s my focus now.
— Martin Griffiths (@UNReliefChief) February 12, 2023
A UN spokesperson said aid into opposition-controlled northwest Syria has been held up by approval issues with the Islamist bloc Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
An HTS official said that it would only accept assistance through Turkish border crossings and not from Assad-controlled territory, “Turkey has opened all the roads and we won’t allow the regime to take advantage of the situation to show they are helping.”
Oubadah Alwan, a spokesperson for the White Helmets civil defense, said volunteers are very “spread very thin” in a “very difficult” situation which could have “definitely been avoided if we had some help earlier on”.
“The catastrophe has definitely put us way over capacity, “ he said. “We’re dealing with a population of 4 million people.”
Disappointment and abandonment is definitely a general feeling. We’re seven days into the earthquake. Our organization has been calling for help, for manpower, for rescue equipment and in the first couple of days, we were just ignored and were left to deal with the situation on our own.
UPDATE 0823 GMT:
German rescuers and the Austrian army suspended search operations on Saturday because of fighting between unidentified groups.
A spokesperson for the Austrian army, Lt. Col. Pierre Kugelweis said dozens of personnel from the Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit sought shelter in a base camp in Hatay Province as security deteriorated.
“There is increasing aggression between factions in Turkey. The chances of saving a life bears no reasonable relation to the safety risk,” Kugelweis said.
The Austrians resumed operations after the Turkish army offered protection.
The German branch of search-and-rescue group ISAR and the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief also cited security concerns.
ISAR spokesperson Stefan Heine said: “There are more and more reports of clashes between different factions, shots have also been fired.”
ISAR’s operations manager Steven Bayer said he expected security to worsen amid shortage of food and water.
He added: “We are watching the security situation very closely as it develops.”
UPDATE, FEB 12:
The death toll from Monday’s earthquake has reached 28,170, as Turkey announced 24,617 fatalities and 3,553 deaths are reported across northwest Syria.
UPDATE 1547 GMT:
World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is in Syria’s largest city Aleppo, controlled by the Assad regime.
Tedros was accompanied by about 37 metric tons of emeregency medical supplies. He toured hospitals and shelters with the regime’s Health Minister and the Aleppo Governor.
He said the WHO will continue to provide emergency medical services and bring in more emergency supplies for “trauma management”.
“Tomorrow, there will be another round with more than 30 metric tons,” he said.
Tedros did not make any reported comments about assistance to opposition-held areas of northwest Syria.
UPDATE 1546 GMT:
The death toll is now 25,401, after Turkey raised its count to 21,848.
At least 3,553 people have perished across Assad- and opposition-controlled areas of northwest Syria.
UPDATE 1134 GMT:
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay says about 80,000 people were being treated in hospital, and 1.05 million are in temporary shelters.
Our main goal is to ensure that they return to a normal life by delivering permanent housing to them within one year, and that they heal their pain as soon as possible.
UPDATE 1125 GMT:
Two women in Turkey have been rescued from rubble after they were trapped for 122 hours.
Menekse Tabak, 70, was swaddled in a blanket as rescuers carried her to a waiting ambulance in Kahramanmaras Province, near the epicenter of Monday’s earthquake.
Masallah Cicek, 55, was brought out from the debris of a collapsed building in Diyarbakir.
Zeynep Kahraman, 40, died in hospital on Saturday. A day earlier, she was rescued from a collapsed building in the town of Kirikhan after being buried for 104 hours.
Peter Kaub, The lead doctor treating her, said, “In the end, her family was able to hold her in their arms.”
UPDATE, FEB. 11:
The death toll has risen to 24,208, with 20,665 fatalities in Turkey and 3,553 across Assad- and opposition-controlled Syria.
UPDATE 2231 GMT:
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees says 5.37 million people in Syria may be homeless after Monday’s earthquake.
The UNHCR noted that 6.8 million people were already displaced by the Assad regime’s 12-year war against the Syrian uprising.
UPDATE 2215 GMT:
The UN Security Council will finally meet next week to discuss the reopening of crossing points from Turkey into northwest Syria for humanitarian aid.
Russia has used its veto, on behalf of the Assad regime, to cut the crossing points into northern Syria from four in 2014 to one in 2020.
A “UN diplomat familiar with discussions” said, “There is frustration with foot-dragging on this. The Secretary-General said we need more crossings. The UN Security Council needs to step up and get it done.”
The UN official overseeing aid, Martin Griffiths, will brief the Council. He is in Turkey and will also visit Syria.
UPDATE 2151 GMT:
The death toll has risen to 23,726.
In Turkey, there are at least 20,213 fatalities and 80,052 injured.
In Assad regime-controlled areas of northwest Syria, 1,347 people have died and 2,295 are injured. In opposition-controlled areas, there are 2,166 dead and 2,950 injured.
UPDATE 1541 GMT:
State media says the Assad regime has approved humanitarian aid delivery across frontlines into opposition areas.
The reports said the distribution will be in cooperation with the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to “guarantee the arrival of this aid to those who need it”.
UPDATE 1536 GMT:
Zeynep Kahraman, 40, has pulled out alive by German rescuers in Kırıkhan, Turkey, more than 104 hours after she was buried in rubble.
UPDATE 1534 GMT:
The death toll has risen to 22,765, with 19,388 fatalities in Turkey and 3,377 across Assad- and opposition-controlled areas of Syria.
UPDATE 1526 GMT:
Raed al-Saleh, the head of the White Helmets civil defense, has criticized the UN for its “catastrophic” response to the earthquake in northwest Syria.
Al-Saleh said the UN should “apologize to the Syrian people for the lack of help it provided”. He explained that the opposition-held area has not received any assistance, four day after Monday’s earthquake.
“The [six] trucks that entered yesterday are a convoy that was scheduled to enter on Monday but was late due to the earthquake,” he told reporters.
During a visit to Assad regime-controlled Aleppo city, Mirjana Spoljaric, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, has called for “full humanitarian access” to all affected areas.
UPDATE 1053 GMT:
The International Organisation for Migration says 14 trucks with humanitarian aid crossed into Idlib Province in northwest Syria from Turkey on Friday.
“These convoys are carrying electric heaters, tents, blankets and other items to assist these people who have been displaced as a result of this catastrophic earthquake,” said spokesperson Paul Dillon.
A Turkish official said Turkey is discussing the reopening of a border crossing into Assad-controlled territory as well as the opening of another crossing into Idlib.
UPDATE 1019 GMT:
The World Food Programme, running out of supplies in northwest Syria, has called for the opening of more border crossings from Turkey.
Corinne Fleischer, WFP’s Regional Director in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Eastern Europe, told reporters:
Northwest Syria, where 90% of the population depends on humanitarian assistance, is a big concern. We have reached the people there, but we need to replenish our stocks
We are running out of stocks and we need access to bring new stocks in. The border crossing is open now, but we need to get new border crossings open.
Russia and the Assad regime have reduced the border crossings for UN aid into northern Syria from four in 2014 to one in 2020.
Six trucks with tents and hygiene products finally were allowed through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing from Turkey on Thursday, but their transport had been arranged before Monday’s earthquake.
UPDATE 0851 GMT:
Amid the rising death toll, there are stories of rescues four days after Monday’s earthquakes.
Several people were rescued in Turkey from rubble overnight, including a 10-year-old boy and his mother buried for 90 hours.
in the Samandag district of Hatay Province.
A 7-year-old girl was rescued after 95 hours and taken to hospital in Hatay.
And 17-year-old Adnan Muhammed Korkut was pulled from a collapsed building in Gaziantep before dawn Friday.
As he was put onto a stretcher, Korkut smiled at a crowd of friends and relatives who chanted his name, clapped, and wept tears of joy.
A baby girl, whose mother died during the childbirth under the rubble of their home in Syria, has been named Aya — Arabic for “a sign from God”.
With her parents and her siblings all killed, Aya will be cared for by her great-uncle, Salah al-Badran, after she is released from hospital.
UPDATE 0835 GMT:
The US Treasury has confirmed the extension of a license for humanitarian aid to Syria, waiving any sanctions on the Assad regime over its war crimes and repression during the 12-year Syrian uprising.
Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said in a statement:
As international allies and humanitarian partners mobilize to help those affected, I want to make very clear that US sanctions in Syria will not stand in the way of life-saving efforts for the Syrian people.
While US sanctions programs already contain robust exemptions for humanitarian efforts, today Treasury is issuing a blanket General License to authorize earthquake relief efforts so that those providing assistance can focus on what’s needed most: saving lives and rebuilding.
Washington also announced an initial $85 million in earthquake-related assistance.
The United States will provide $85 million in urgently-needed aid in the wake of the Türkiye and Syria earthquakes – including food and shelter, supplies to help families brave the cold, and medicine to help save lives.
Our hearts remain with the people of Türkiye and Syria.
— President Biden (@POTUS) February 9, 2023
UPDATE 0826 GMT:
Germany has announced an additional €26 million euros ($28 million) in humanitarian assistance to Syria.
The German Embassy in Lebanon’s Beirut said the funds are needed “especially in the affected areas in the northwestern parts of the country”.
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 UK is committing £3 million ($3.65 million) to support search and rescue operations and emergency relief.
The announcements follow the European Union’s allocation to Damascus of €3.5 million ($3.76 million) for access to “shelter, water and sanitation, and health various items”, following an appeal by the Assad regime under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
UPDATE, FEB 10:
The death toll across southeast Turkey and northwest Syria has risen to 21,719.
Turkey has recorded 18,342 fatalities. Across Assad- and opposition-controlled areas of Syria, 3,377 deaths are confirmed.
UPDATE 1911 GMT:
The death toll from Monday’s earthquake has passed 20,000.
The toll in Turkey is 17,134. There are 1,347 confirmed deaths in Assad-held areas of Syria, and 1,930 in opposition-held areas.
UPDATE 1326 GMT:
The number of people confirmed dead in Turkey has risen to 16,170 with more than 64,000 injured, says President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The White Helmets civil defense has raised the death toll in opposition-held northwest Syria to at least 1,930, with more than 2,950 injured.
The death toll in Assad-controlled areas of Syria is 1,262, with 2,208 injured.
UPDATE 1150 GMT:
Turkish authorities have lifted the block on access to Twitter.
A Turkish infrastructure minister said he had reminded Twitter personnel of their responsibility to cooperate on “on disinformation and false reports [with] swift action against fake accounts”.
Turkish police have detained at least 18 people, arresting five, for “provocative posts” on social media about the earthquake.
UPDATE 1145 GMT:
The first cross-border aid convoy has reached northwest Syria.
Six trucks with tents and hygiene products went through the Bab al-Hawa crossing into Idlib Province.
Assistance had been held up by logistical problems and the insistence of the Assad regime on control of all aid within Syria.
Despite the symbolism of the first crossing, rescue workers say efforts are insufficient, with heavy equipment needed for operations such as searches for survivors under rubble.
“The UN are not delivering the aid that we are in most need of to help us save lives, with time running out,” said Raed al-Saleh, the head of the White Helmets civil defense organization.
Rescue operations are relying on old cranes, pickaxes, and shovels.
UPDATE, FEB 9:
The death toll across southwest Turkey and northwest Syria has risen to 17,016.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said there are 14,014 fatalities in Turkey. Another 3.162 victims are confirmed across Assad- and opposition-controlled areas of northwest Syria.
UPDATE 1924 GMT:
Turkish police have detained at least 18 people, arresting five, for “provocative posts” on social media about the earthquake.
Authorities have restricted Twitter via multiple Internet providers, according to Netblocks.
UPDATE 1918 GMT:
A Syrian surgeon says injuries from the earthquake are even more devastating than those he has seen during the Assad regime’s 12-year war against the country’s uprising.
Mohamad Zitoun, working in a hospital in Idlib Province near the Turkish border, said:
This is a huge calamity. I lived through shelling and survived massacres. This is totally different, terrifying and horrific.
The first massive wave of patients surpassed the ability of any medical team. Cases arriving for treatment from shelling and aerial bombing would come one after the other, in small waves, but the earthquake has seen 500 victims brought in each day, requiring dozens of operations.
Many of the injured die within an hour or two as a result of trauma shock, heart failure or bleeding, especially since the weather is cold and they would have been under the rubble for eleven or twelve hours.
The UN’s resident Syria coordinator, El-Mostafa Benlamlih, called on the Assad regime to allow aid into opposition-held areas: “Put politics aside and let us do our humanitarian work. We can’t afford to wait and negotiate. By the time we negotiate, it’s done, it’s finished.”
UPDATE 1909 GMT:
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu says Ankara is trying to open two more border crossings with northwest Syria for humanitarian aid.
Currently, the UN can only use the Bab al-Hawa crossing after Russia used its Security Council veto to close another crossing from Turkey and two from Iraq.
Cavusoglu said damage on the Syria side of the road leading to Bab al-Hawa, known as Cilvegozu in Turkey, is causing difficulties.
The Foreign Minister did not explain what efforts are being made with Moscow to ensure it accepts the opening of the other border points.
UPDATE 1245 GMT:
In the village of Bisnia in northwest Syria, a man and his son and daughter are pulled out from rubble….
UPDATE 1219 GMT:
The death toll has risen to 11,224, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announcing 8,754 fatalities in his country.
Erdoğan acknowledged problems with emergency response in the hours after Monday’s earthquake (see 0815). However, as he pursues re-election in May, he said now is a time for unity and derided disparaged “provocateurs”.
UPDATE 0936 GMT:
Four White Helmets civil defense members and their families are among the victims in northwest Syria.
With great sorrow we mourn the loss of 4 White Helmets volunteers and their families who were among the victims of the devastating #earthquake that struck NW #Syria on February 6.
Our condolences to their families & to our Syrian people. pic.twitter.com/ygPW4HTtJk
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 8, 2023
UPDATE 0823 GMT:
Amid sorrow over the dead and injured, there are moments of joy over rescues — a scene from Salqin in Idlib Province in northwest Syria….
Once again, another miracle….. a child rescued after more than 40 hours of being trapped under the rubble of her house in the city of #Salqin in the countryside of #Idlib, #Syria yesterday, February 7.#SyriaEarthquake #earthquake pic.twitter.com/R7kRsNZFEG
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 8, 2023
Greek rescuers tried hard to get a young girl out of the ruble alive. They did not manage. Minutes after, they are rescuing her 6 yrs old sister. And they burst into tears. And then applauding. The mystery of life, the power of love. #Turkey, you are not alone! #TurkeyEarthquake pic.twitter.com/gS26kX6C3t
— Makis Mylonas (@MylonasMakis) February 7, 2023
The two Syrian girls who are in this viral video are rescued and safe now… with so much destruction and so many lives lost, still the rescue efforts continue and hopefully more people are saved… #Syria #syriaearthquake pic.twitter.com/yAzbzwDUs8
— Omid Memarian (@Omid_M) February 7, 2023
UPDATE 0815 GMT:
Anger is growing in parts of Turkey at the slow pace of rescue.
In Gaziantep, there were no rescue teams in areas of the city for 12 hours after Monday’s earthquake. Teams who arrived in the evening only worked for a few hours before halting for the night.
“People revolted [on Tuesday] morning. The police had to intervene,” said Celal Deniz, whose brother and nephews are still trapped.
Turkey’s Red Crescent chief Kerem Kinik maintained, “There isn’t anywhere that our rescuers cannot reach.”
But Aysan Kurt, 27, explained:
We don’t have a tent, we don’t have a heating stove, we don’t have anything. Our children are in bad shape. We are all getting wet under the rain and our kids are out in the cold.
We did not die from hunger or the earthquake, but we will die freezing from the cold.
In Kahramanmaraş, near the quake’s epicenter, Ali Sagiroglu said:
I can’t get my brother back from the ruins. I can’t get my nephew back. Look around here. There is no state official here, for God’s sake.
For two days we haven’t seen the state around here. Children are freezing from the cold.
UPDATE, FEB 8:
The death toll has risen to 9.427, with 7,108 fatalities in southeast Turkey and 2,470 across Assad- and opposition-controlled areas of northwest Syria.
UPDATE 1912 GMT:
The death toll from Monday’s earthquake across Turkey and Syria has risen to 7,266, with the Turkish Health Ministry confirmed 5,434 fatalities in the country.
UPDATE 1801 GMT:
A fire continues to burn at Turkey’s port of Iskanderun, which has been closed to shipping.
The fire in the port of #İskenderun is still not extinguished, Turkish media reported.
Major shipping companies began diverting containers going to this port to other locations. pic.twitter.com/S7gOAHOMLW
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 7, 2023
UPDATE 1204 GMT:
Turkish officials say inmates, including at least 20 Islamic State members, have escaped from a prison in northern Syria after Monday’s earthquake.
The military police prison in the town of Rajo, near the Turkish border, has about 2,000 inmates. About 1,300 are suspected ISIS fighters, while others are from the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG.
A source said walls and doors cracked in the prison during the quake.
Rajo was captured by Turkish-backed forces from the YPG in 2018.
UPDATE 1159 GMT:
Turkey has raised its official death toll to 3,549, with more than 22,000 wounded.
UPDATE 1116 GMT:
The mayor of Hatay, Lütfü Savaş, says, “With the support of the mayors of Ankara, Istanbul and İzmir, we can now provide food, tents and drinking water support.”
However, he continues:
Most of the public buildings, our own building, the fire department, [the disaster relief agency] AFAD, and three hospitals have been severely damaged. Our losses are very high. The airport is unusable.
We are focused on what we can recover quickly with construction equipment, but experienced professionals are needed. There is a serious communication problem in the city center and in certain parts of Hatay.
Savaş said there are almost 2,000 destroyed buildings in Hatay.
UPDATE 1100 GMT:
The Assad regime is threatening to block any assistance to opposition-held areas of northwest Syria.
The regime’s UN Ambassador, Bassam Sabbagh, said it must oversee all deliveries into Syria.
The regime’s ally Russia, using its Security Council veto, has reduced the cross-border posts for UN aid from four to one — the Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey into Idlib Province.
Mark Lowcock, the former head of UN humanitarian affairs, notes:
The areas worst affected by the earthquake inside Syria look to be run by the Turkish-controlled opposition and not by the Syrian government. It is going to require Turkish acquiescence to get aid into those areas. It is unlikely the Syrian government will do much to help.
Qutaiba Idlbi of the Atlantic Council thinktank, adds that the issue is “not about how aid is routed into affected areas, but about who distributes the aid and controls the economy of the humanitarian operations in the north-west”.
He emphasizes, “Make no mistake, the Assad government has no capacity to implement any aid operation in north-west Syria.”
The movement of aid from Turkey into northwest Syria has been temporarily halted because of earthquake damage.
“Some roads are broken, some are inaccessible. There are logistical issues that need to be worked through,” said Madevi Sun-Suona, spokesperson for the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance. “We don’t have a clear picture of when it will resume.”
UPDATE 0805 GMT:
The death toll across northwest Syria has been raised to 1,602.
At least 812 people have been killed and 1,449 injured in Assad-held areas.
The toll in opposition-held areas is 790 with White Helmets civil defense warning that it will “dramatically” rise.
Turkish officials say they have deployed more than 24,400 search and rescue personnel. They have confirmed the collapse of 5,775 buildings amid 11,342 reports.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 7, 2023
UPDATE 0758 GMT:
More testimony that rescuers and aid workers are struggling to reach affected areas in Turkey — nurse Nihal Atasoy said as she waited to board a flight to Adana after volunteering to help….
I used to live in Osmaniye, but when I called I couldn’t reach my friends there in the hours after the quake. When I finally got through to them they said things like “my house is in ruins”. So I decided to volunteer, as I normally work in intensive care
Honestly, I don’t know what I’ll find when I get to Adana, whether I will try to save people trapped under the rubble, or work in the hospital as a nurse.
In Hatay Province, the building of Turkey’s disaster relief agency AFAD has been destroyed.
UPDATE, FEB 7:
The death toll across southeast Turkey and northwest Syria has risen to more than 4,800 people.
At least 3,381 people were killed in Turkey. The total in Syria, across the Assad- and opposition-controlled areas, is 1,444.
More than 7,800 people have been rescued across 10 provinces in Turkey, and 13,000 rescue workers have been despatched from Istanbul.
But survivors said they had been waiting for aid. Ali Ünlü, from the town of Adıyaman near the earthquake’s epicenter, said he was working to free his elderly mother from the rubble of her home.
After the earthquake I ran to my Mother’s house, and saw the building had collapsed. I was devastated. I started waiting for rescue teams, but they didn’t show up. I started calling officials, all the lines cut out. I gave my name and a record of the incident, but the officials said everyone is waiting. Since I called thens, no one has showed up….
It’s been over 24 hours and my mother is still trapped under the rubble. I don’t know if she’s still alive or not.
An analyst reports that assistance has not reached parts of Hatay Province as of Monday evening.
I am so angry. There are no rescue teams from the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management in Hatay. People are trying to dig out loved ones trapped under rubble. It is cold, raining, no electricity. One family member is trapped under a heavy concrete slab, waiting for rescue +
— Gönül Tol (@gonultol) February 6, 2023
White Helmets rescuers said “hundreds of families” are still trapped under rubble. The UN reported at least 224 buildings in northwestern Syria have been destroyed and at least 325 damaged, including aid warehouses.
The World Health Organization’s Catherine Smallwood, said the death toll could rise to more than 20,000 people:
There’s continued potential of further collapses to happen so we do often see in the order of eightfold increases on the initial number….The initial reports of the numbers of people who have died or who have been injured will increase quite significantly in the week that follows.
UPDATE 1942 GMT:
The death toll is now more than 2,600, with more bodies under rubble.
Turkish officials said 1,651 people perished and 11,119 are injured.
In the Assad regime’s areas of Syria, 538 people are dead and more than 1,326 injured. In the opposition-held areas of the northwest, 430 people were killed.
A White Helmets volunteer in the village of Sarmada said:
At first I thought it was helicopters dropping barrel bombs. I woke up and went to grab my son
We are used to digging people out of the rubble but this is different. So many people are still stuck and they will die because we don’t have enough equipment to get to them all. There is nothing left, nothing at all.
UPDATE 1436 GMT:
The death toll is now more than 1,900.
In Turkey, more than 1,100 people have been killed across 10 provinces, and more than 7,600 are injured.
In Assad-controlled areas of Syria, more than 430 are dead and 1,280 injured.
In opposition-controlled areas of Syria, 380 people have been killed and many hundreds injured.
UPDATE 1114 GMT:
A third large earthquake has reportedly struck Turkey and Syria.
Preliminary data puts the quake at 7.7 magnitude, with the epicenter 67 km (42 miles) north-northeast of Kahramanmaraş, Turkey.
Syrian activists release harrowing scenes of destruction and desperate attempts to help victims of this morning’s earthquake pic.twitter.com/uI4Px4yizo
— Borzou Daragahi 🖊🗒 (@borzou) February 6, 2023
UPDATE 1027 GMT:
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says Turkey’s toll has risen to 912 people killed and 5,383 wounded amid the collapse of 2,818 buildings.
The Assad regime reported more than 320 dead and more than 1,000 wounded in the areas of Syria which it controls.
The White Helmets have raised the toll in opposition-controlled northwest Syria to more than 221 deaths and more than 419 injured.
Death toll from #earthquake in NW #Syria now at 221+ with 419+ injured. Difficulty in rescue efforts as hundreds remain trapped under rubble & heavy equipment needed. Number expected to rise as hundreds of families still trapped. pic.twitter.com/Tt433BrzP6
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 6, 2023
UPDATE 0915 GMT:
The White Helmets civil defense has raised the toll in opposition-controlled northwest Syria to 147 dead and 340 wounded.
Video of the resuce of an injured child in opposition-held northwest Syria:
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Rescue workers saved an injured child from the rubble of collapsed buildings after a major earthquake hit Syria, killing dozens and injuring hundreds https://t.co/d3s6tUGIrM pic.twitter.com/iky9r0smB7
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 6, 2023
UPDATE 0918 GMT:
The scene in southeast Turkey….
WATCH: Building collapses during aftershock in Şanlıurfa, Turkey pic.twitter.com/PiKKIkbu0a
— BNO News Live (@BNODesk) February 6, 2023
UPDATE 0729 GMT:
The Turkish toll has risen to 284 killed and 2,323 injured.
Vice president Fuat Oktay said 70 people were killed in Kahramanmaraş Province, the epicenter of the earthquake; 20 in Osmaniye; 18 in Şanlıurfa; 14 in Diyarbakir; and 13 in Adiyaman.
The Assad regime has raised the toll to 237 killed and 639 wounded in the areas of northern Syria which it controls.
UPDATE 0726 GMT:
Gaziantep’s castle, a stone observation point atop a hill since Roman times, has collapsed in the earthquake.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) February 6, 2023
ORIGINAL ENTRY: More than 300 people have been killed in Syria and Turkey by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake early Monday, one of the most powerful quakes in the region for more than a century.
The toll is epxected as rise as rescuers and residents search for survivors in the rubble of buildings.
The earthquake struck at 04:17 a.m. (0117 GMT), with a 6.7-magnitude aftershock 15 minutes later. The town of Pazarcık, 35 miles north of Gaziantep in southeast Turkey, was the epicentre of the first quake. Nurdağı, about 42 miles to the west of Gazientep, was the epicenter of the second. Tremors were felt as far away as Lebanon, Greece, Israel, and Cyprus.
The Assad regime’s Health Ministry said at least 230 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in Syria’s Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Tartous Provinces. The White Helmets civil defense reports 111 fatalities in the opposition area in Idlib Province in northwest Syria, which has about 4 million residents.
Turkish authorities say at least 76 people died and 440 are injured across seven provinces.
Multiple apartment buildings have collapsed after a powerful earthquake in southern Turkey pic.twitter.com/wydrBj94RL
— BNO News (@BNONews) February 6, 2023
State of Emergency in NW Syria
The White Helmets declared a state of emergency as they rescued those trapped in Idlib Province: “[It is] a catastrophic situation with buildings collapsed or suffering major cracks, hundreds injured and stranded, dozens dead and a lack of services as well as safe shelters and assembly points in stormy and snowy weather conditions and low temperatures.”
The civil defense organization appealed for aid from the international community ”to prevent the situation from worsening”, and to press the Assad regime and Russia to refrain from airstrikes on the area.
Assad regime media reported a large number of buildings collapsed in Aleppo and Hama Provinces. People in Damascus ran into the street and fled in cars, fearing their homes would also fall.
Turkish Cities “In Ruins”
In Pazarcık, resident Nihat Altundağ said:
Our house looks solid from the outside but there are cracks inside. There are destroyed buildings around me, there are houses on fire. There are buildings that are cracking. A building collapsed just 200 meters away from where I am now.
Thank God, our friends are safe, but we heard there are people who can’t get out of their homes and there are people we can’t reach.
We are waiting for the sun to rise so that we can see the scale of the earthquake. People are all outside, all in fear.
Hüseyin Satı echoed:
Pazarcik is in ruins. The building where I live is not so tall, and was built in compliance with earthquake regulations, so it didn’t collapse. But still there are cracks on the walls.
A neighbor of mine broke his back while jumping from the balcony during the earthquake and is now in hospital….Two of my friends are under the rubble now, we are trying to reach them.
In Diyarbakir, a rescuer said, “We hear voices here – and over there, too. There may be 200 people under the rubble.”
The epicenter region is home to millions of refugees and IDPs, many of whom live in tents & makeshift structures. This is the absolute nightmare scenario for them. And it’s winter. pic.twitter.com/oACzWYtWb2
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) February 6, 2023