Türkiye-Syria earthquake: Death toll is approaching 45,000 as rescue operations continues
Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu told CNN Turk on Friday that the total number of dead in Türkiye after the devastating earthquakes that struck the country reached 39,672 people.
Several thousand people have died in neighboring conflict-torn Syria, where international political debate has cast a dark shadow over disaster response efforts and relief efforts have been hampered by poor infrastructure.
No updated figures were available for the dead and injured in Syria, and the latest figure was 5,900 dead and announced by the World Health Organization last Sunday.
Meanwhile, more than 35,000 people have joined rescue efforts to find any survivors some 12 days after the two devastating earthquakes, while hopes of finding survivors are fading, authorities said Friday.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay told reporters in Ankara that teams had searched for survivors in about 200 collapsed buildings in 11 Turkish provinces.
Oktay said the efforts would continue until the end, adding that the research focused primarily on the worst-affected Hatay province.
On Friday, rescue teams in Türkiye pulled out a 45-year-old man alive after he spent 278 hours under the rubble in the aftermath of the two devastating earthquakes.
On Friday, Turkish official Anadolu news agency reported that the man, Hakan Yasin Oglu, was rescued from under the rubble in the Defneh neighborhood in Hatay.
More than 84,000 buildings in the region have collapsed or been severely damaged in the aftermath of the two quakes and the thousands of aftershocks that followed them, the Turkish Urban Planning Minister Murat Kurum said on Friday.
Murad Kurum explained that the damaged buildings must be demolished immediately, and urged residents to stay away from those buildings.
The Turkish minister said that the government will start major efforts to rebuild in many of the most affected cities, starting next March.
Turkish authorities have been criticized for lax enforcement of building codes, which may have caused the high death toll.
Anadolu news agency reported that the authorities had arrested more than 50 people, including contractors, in connection with the collapse of the buildings.