Following the two major earthquakes of 7.7 and 7.6 magnitudes that caused severe destruction in Türkiye and Syria, the death toll continues to rise.
According to Türkiye’s disaster management authority, AFAD’s latest statement 18,342 people died, 74,242 people injured as of February 10 at 8:30 (GMT+3).
75,780 people were transfered from the earthquake-stricken provinces to other cities. .
The number of people who have died in war-torn Syria has also exceeded 3,500, as search and rescue activities still continue.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan acknowledged “disruptions” in search and rescue operations, amid widespread criticism that a lack of coordination slowed vital relief efforts after the 72-hour critical period had passed.
“Undoubtedly, in a disaster of such magnitude and impact, there can be disruptions. And we are endeavouring to overcome these shortcomings rapidly. We will not leave any of our citizens unattended,” Erdoğan said on February 9 in the earthquake-stricken province of Kilis.
State of emergency
Türkiye’s parliament adopted the presidential decree on February 9 to declare a state of emergency in the 10 cities that are affected by the earthquake. It will be effective for 3 months in Hatay, Adıyaman, Osmaniye, Diyarbakır, Urfa, Kahramanmaraş, Malatya, Adana, Gaziantep and Kilis.
Under the state of emergency, public institutions, as well as real and legal persons, will be obliged to provide the public with all kinds of items, such as land, vehicles, etc., when requested.
Regional governors can be appointed to ensure coordination between cities under the state of emergency, and they will have the authority to request assistance from the highest military command in the region until help arrives when deemed necessary.
If deemed necessary, curfews, bans on meetings and demonstrations, and restrictions on entrances and exits can be imposed in cities where a state of emergency has been declared.
Hatay awaits aid
While the critical 72-hour period has passed, it has been reported that many provinces have not yet received search and rescue aid.
The scale of destruction in cities, Hatay, Adıyaman, Gaziantep and Kahramanmaraş is reported to be devastating.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on February 8 that the loss of life in Hatay was at least 3,356.
Roads and airports that were closed because of bad weather and the earthquake had slowed down the delivery of aid to Hatay. The General Directorate of Highways said that the earthquake did not close any roads, but it is reported that aid is still not being effectively delivered to the province.
Antakya, Defne, Kırıkhan, Samandağ, Hassa, İskenderun and Arsus districts of Hatay are still in need of urgent aid.
While many service buildings, especially the municipality building, were destroyed, communication channels are also limited. People in the region say that GSM operators and the internet work very slowly and that they are often unable to access the internet.
The city had been without natural gas, electricity, and water for three days.
Nevşin Mengü, reporting from the region, stated that search and rescue efforts in the region were hampered due to a lack of AFAD coordination.
Twitter is blocked amid calls for help
After the earthquake, many civil initiatives have stepped in to deliver aid to the region. Aid collection efforts are ongoing in big cities and many municipalities.
AFAD stated that any aid that would reach the region outside of its coordination would not be accepted and called on civil initiatives to cooperate. However, the lack of coordination is criticized.
Ankara Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Mansur Yavaş announced that they have started repair work at the damaged Hatay Airport, while Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has set up special mobile points for internet access and phone charging stations in Hatay.
Even though many messages asking for help were posted on social media, the Turkish government made it harder for people to use Twitter and Tik-Tok in the evening by “reducing bandwidth.”
Twitter’s Elon Musk said on February 8 that “Twitter has been informed by the Turkish government that access will be reenabled shortly.”
Two earthquakes, National Mourning
Turkey was shaken by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in the morning hours of February 6 in Pazarcık district of Kahramanmaraş.
While aftershocks continued which were effective in Syria and Lebanon, another 7.6 magnitude earthquake centered in Elbistan occurred at 13:30 in the afternoon.
On February 6, a 7-day national mourning was declared across Turkey with the statement made by the Presidency in the evening.
The magnitude of the earthquakes is three times the magnitude of the 1999 earthquake in Düzce, which killed tens of thousands of people.
According to official statements, more than 200 aftershocks occurred after the earthquakes. Three aftershocks larger than 6 magnitude, the largest of which was 6.6, increased the damage.
International aid after the earthquake
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said right after the first quake that a “level four” alert had been issued, which included a call for international help.
The European Union (EU) Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Unit announced that aid teams from the Netherlands and Romania were on their way to Turkey in coordination with Brussels.
As a result of talks with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, AFAD says that 2,660 people from 65 countries were sent to the disaster area.
It is said that the teams that have already arrived in Turkey have gone to the reception centers set up in Adana and Malatya and are waiting to be taken to the disaster areas.
According to the statement made by AFAD, a total of 120.344 search and rescue personnel are working in the region.
Kahramanmaraş kent merkezi pic.twitter.com/um5qcM2Vzy
— nevsin mengu (@nevsinmengu) February 6, 2023
The City of İskenderun in Southern Turkey has suffered some of the most Severe Damage caused by the Earthquake, there are reports that Fire and Rescue Crews are unable to get to many parts of the City with 100s if not 1000s of people expected to still be under collapsed buildings pic.twitter.com/kMV2hgEBXZ
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) February 6, 2023
South-Eastern Hatay’s province:
Antakya, asi nehrinin kenarı. İnanılmaz üzüldüm. pic.twitter.com/trWjf96MA7
— Nazli (@nazliavs) February 6, 2023