CNN  — 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has admitted to his government’s “shortcomings” amid growing anger over the state’s response to the massive earthquake earlier this week, which is now known to have killed more than 21,000 people.

Days after the quake hit Turkey’s Gaziantep province near the Syrian border, rescuers are racing against the clock through freezing conditions in a frantic scramble to pull survivors from the debris. As questions emerge over the country’s preparedness, the latest estimates from the World Health Organization said up to 23 million people could be affected by the disaster.

Huge piles of rubble and wreckage litter streets in Gaziantep where residential buildings and properties once stood. As the desperate search for survivors continues, emergency responders have periodically called for silence from those in the immediate vicinity and for heavy machinery to briefly still while rescuers check for signs of life from trapped residents.

The official response has seen Erdogan declare a state of emergency for the next three months in 10 provinces. The country’s disaster management agency has deployed search and rescue teams to badly-hit areas and the health minister announced field hospitals had been set up.