ISTANBUL – The death toll from a massive earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria rose above 11,200 on Wednesday as rescuers raced to save survivors trapped under debris in the winter cold.
Officials and medics said 8,574 people had died in Turkey and 2,662 in Syria from Monday’s 7.8-magnitude tremor, bringing the total to 11,236.
Nearly 50,000 people were also injured in Turkey and another 5,000 in Syria, officials and rescuers on both sides said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave an update on the casualty figures during a visit to Kahramanmaras, a southern Turkish city at the epicentre of the initial quake.
Television images showed him hugging a weeping, elderly woman and walking through a large crowd towards a Red Crescent humanitarian relief tent.
Facing a tough May 14 re-election, Erdogan pledged to rebuild the damaged regions within a year.
He also appeared to push back against criticism that the government’s response to Turkey’s worst disaster in decades has been slow.
“Initially there were issues at airports and on the roads, but today things are getting easier and tomorrow it will be easier still,” he said in televised remarks.
“We have mobilised all our resources,” he added. “The state is doing its job.” –AFP