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Quake death toll passes 21,000 in Turkey and Syria

Posted February. 11, 2023 07:14,   

Updated February. 11, 2023 07:14


As of Thursday, the death toll from the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria has surpassed 21,000, surpassing the 19,846 deaths caused by the Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Foreign media outlets, including CNN, reported that 17,674 people have died in Turkey and 3,377 in Syria. The latest estimates show that over 78,000 people have been injured across both countries.

The New York Times reported that it is devastating to see outdoor parking spaces and gyms become giant morgues in areas affected by the earthquake. In Hatay Province, hundreds of bodies wrapped in body bags are lined up in front of a hospital's outdoor parking lot. At the Kahramanmaras cemetery, wooden planks with hand-written names serve as makeshift headstones for the deceased. According to the New York Times, many people are burying dead bodies in haste after wiping them with sand and soil based on Islamic funeral procedures in times of disaster or water shortage.

Experts fear that the death toll will increase in the coming days, with geologist Professor Dr. Övgün Ahmet Ercan estimating, "There are 200,000 people trapped under the rubble and their chances of survival are close to zero."

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) stated on Thursday that the likelihood of the death toll surpassing 100,000 had risen to 24 percent, up from 0 percent immediately after the earthquake hit both nations and 14 percent on Wednesday. This represents a 10 percent increase in just two days. Only two earthquakes in the 21st century have resulted in more than 100,000 deaths - the 2004 earthquake that struck Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka, and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which claimed over 220,000 lives.

Jeong-Soo Hong hong@donga.com