Earthquake death toll exceeds 28,000 across Turkey and Syria
From CNN's Talia Kayali and Raja Razek
The death toll across Turkey and Syria following Monday’s earthquake has reached 28,192.
Turkey’s death toll climbed to 24,617, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said in a news conference Saturday.
In Syria, the total number of confirmed deaths stand at 3,575, including 2,167 in rebel-held areas in the northwest, according to the White Helmets civil defense group. An additional 1,408 deaths have been recorded in government-controlled territories, according to Syrian state media, which cited the country's health ministry.
2:17 p.m. ET, February 11, 2023
Turkish authorities detain contractors over construction of buildings that collapsed in quake
From CNN's Niamh Kennedy in London and Isil Saruyuce in Istanbul
Authorities in Turkey have detained a number of individuals responsible for the construction of buildings that collapsed in Monday's catastrophic earthquake, according to Turkish state news agency Anadolu.
Hasan Alpargün, the owner of a company that built buildings destroyed in the city of Adana, was detained in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Saturday, according to Anadolu.
Prosecutors in the city of Adana have issued a detention order for 62 people in relation to an investigation into the buildings destroyed by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
Mehmet Yaşar Coşkun, who Anadolu said is the contractor for Rönesans Residence, a block of high-rise luxury flats that collapsed in Hatay Province, was also arrested on Saturday. Coşkun was intercepted by authorities at Istanbul Airport on Friday while attempting to flee to Montenegro, according to Anadolu.
Contractor İbrahim Mustafa Uncuoğlu was also detained in Istanbul on Saturday over allegedly faulty inspections of the Bahar Apartments, which collapsed in the earthquake epicenter of Gaziantep, the news agency said.
While calling on the international community to "act immediately" in providing humanitarian aid to Syria, Syrian-American actor Jay Abdo told CNN on Saturday that civilians were "racing against time" to rescue loved ones.
More than 25,000 people have died across both countries, according to authorities.
However, in the midst of tragedy, there have been miraculous scenes of survival and rescue, even days after the quake.
Here's a list of survivors who, against the odds, were found among the wreckage:
Sixty-seven-year-old Abdulkerim Bey and his wife, Senem, were found under the rubble during the sixth day of rescues by Gendarmerie Search and Rescue team in Kahramanmaras on Saturday, according to CNN affiliate CNN Turk.
A 16-year-old-boy named Hedil was also rescued alive from the Zümrüt apartment in Kahramanmaras, CNN Turk reports.
In Gaziantep, Turkey, 132 hours after the earthquake struck, Sezai Karabas was rescued shortly after his young daughter. According to CNN Turk, he pleaded with rescuers to search for his wife next, who he believed is still alive in a doorway. “I am forever in your debt,” he told rescuers.
A similar situation transpired in Syria, where two children were wedged between concrete for 36 hours, with one sister shielding the other, before they were rescued.
A child, 8-year-old Yigit Cakmak, was rescued from a collapsed building in Turkey's Hatay province, 52 hours after the initial earthquake struck the region. He was captured in the arms of his mother after they were reunited.
A newborn baby girl was found alive in Syria on Tuesday with her umbilical cord still attached to her mother, who is believed to have died after giving birth.
Watch a report from CNN's Nick Paton Walsh here:
1:49 p.m. ET, February 11, 2023
Ukrainian president says his country “shares the pain” of the Turkish people
From CNN's Mariya Knight
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the Turkish Embassy in Ukraine on Saturday and honored the memory of those who died as a result of the devastating earthquake that took the lives of more than 25,000 people.
“Please accept my sincere condolences from me personally and on behalf of the people of Ukraine. The awful tragedy that took so many lives in one moment caused deep pain in our hearts. We share the pain of the Turkish people and help in this difficult time. Eternal memory to the deceased. We wish those who suffered a quick recovery," Zelensky said.
The Ukrainian president wrote in a book of mourning and laid flowers on the embassy’s grounds.
He also spoke with Turkish Ambassador to Ukraine Yagmur Ahmet Guldere during his visit.
Zelensky said in his nightly address Saturday that the State Emergency Service of Ukraine is helping with debris removal in Turkey.
He added that the Ukrainian Embassy is looking into information about Ukrainian nationals in Turkey who may have been impacted by the earthquake.
2:09 p.m. ET, February 11, 2023
Humanitarian phase of earthquake recovery will last for months, says International Red Cross leader
Recovery in Turkey after the devastating earthquake has now entered the "humanitarian phase," according to Jamie LeSueur, the head of emergency operations at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
As his team moves on from search-and-rescue operations, the greatest needs for those affected in Turkey continue to be food, health and water, LeSueur told CNN from Gaziantep.
"We've now entered into the humanitarian phase. That is going to last for a couple of months, where we'll still try to meet people's basic needs," LeSueur said.
The organization is receiving many winterized tents right now due to cold weather, but it is looking into pre-fabricated transitional shelter options, he said. Most of the population is too afraid to go inside, even if their homes have not been completely destroyed.
"We want to get them out of the humanitarian phase as quickly as possible, into something sustainable and transitional that's going to keep them safe for a long time," the crisis responder said.
LeSueur added that his team is preparing for any eventuality, including the spread of diseases, and they are coordinating with the Turkish Red Crescent about sanitation needs.
The Red Cross is well-positioned to deal with needs in southern Turkey, he said, but also in hard-hit areas of northwestern Syria, where aid has been more complicated due to years of civil war.
"In Turkey, we've established an operation that goes to the border with Syria, and in Syria, we're using the Syrian Arab Red Crescent that going up to the Turkish border; we're trying to cover the entire operational area with two national societies," he said.
2:12 p.m. ET, February 11, 2023
Vehicles carrying aid and bodies of earthquake victims cross into northwest Syria from Turkey
From Eyad Kourdi in Gaziantep, Turkey, and CNN's Celine Alkhaldi
Vehicles carrying the bodies of hundreds of Syrians killed in this week's earthquake crossed into northwestern Syria from Turkey on Saturday, a spokesperson for the Bab al-Hawa border crossing told CNN.
The bodies of at least 1,000 victims have crossed through Bab al-Hawa so they can be buried in their home country, spokesperson Mazen Alloush told CNN.
Other vehicles carrying aid and fuel also passed through the crossing Saturday, Alloush said, including 22 United Nations trucks carrying medical aid. An additional 15 trucks carried in clothes, water and food from Turkish charities in collaboration with the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, Alloush said.
More on aid deliveries to the area: The delivery of urgent supplies to quake-hit areas of northern Syria has been complicated by a long-running civil war between opposition forces and the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, who is accused of killing his own people.
The Syrian government approved sending aid into the rebel-held territories Friday but has not provide a specific timeline.
So far, that's left rebel-held areas reliant on aid groups, including the UN.
11:43 a.m. ET, February 11, 2023
Father and young daughter pulled from rubble in 6th day of rescues
From CNN's Niamh Kennedy, Amy Croffey in London and Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul
Rescuers in Gaziantep, Turkey, saved Sezai Karabas and his young daughter, Şengul Karabas, during the 132nd hour of rescue efforts there on Saturday.
In video shared with CNN by its affiliate station, CNN Turk, the father can be heard pleading with rescuers to search for his wife, who he believes is still alive and trapped in a doorway.
"I’m forever in your debt," Karabas can be heard telling the rescuers, imploring them to help find his wife, who he said ran ahead of him when the earthquake struck on Monday.
In the same hour, but in the province of Hatay, a team of rescuers lifted a 34-year-old man, Ergin Guzeldogan, from deep within the ground in a video shared with CNN by the Municipality of Istanbul.
11:52 a.m. ET, February 11, 2023
Death toll from earthquakes in Turkey and Syria surpasses 25,000
From CNN's Isil Sariyuce, Celine Alkhaldi and Manveena Suri
The death toll following deadly earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 25,000.
In Turkey, the number of people killed has risen to 21,848, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Speaking in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa on Saturday, Erdogan added that 80,104 people had been injured.
In Syria, the total number of deaths stands at 3,553, including 2,166 in rebel-held areas in the northwest, according to the White Helmets civil defense group. There have been 1,387 deaths in government-controlled parts of Syria, according to Syrian state media.
The total number of injured people in Syria across all affected territories stands at 5,273, with 2,326 in government-controlled areas and 2,950 in the rebel-held areas.
2:17 p.m. ET, February 11, 2023
UN aid chief says earthquake was "worst event in 100 years" for the affected regions
From CNN's Niamh Kennedy
The United Nations aid chief described this week's devastating earthquake in southern Turkey and northwestern Syria as the "worst event in 100 years" to hit the region.
The official, Martin Griffiths, made the remark to reporters during a visit to Kahramanmaras, Turkey, on Saturday.
"The response as you have seen here, and as your viewers have seen, is also unique," Griffiths added. "There has never been an international response, a Turkish response to a natural disaster as we see here in these terrible days."
Griffiths, who is the current under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the UN, stressed that the UN would have a "clear plan" on either Sunday or Monday "to give an appeal for a three-month operation to help the people of Turkey with humanitarian assistance."
He added that a similar plan will be laid out for the people of Syria.
During his trip to Kahramanmaras, Griffith met families impacted by the devastating earthquake. Posting pictures of the meeting on Twitter, Griffiths said he had "listened to their stories of shock and devastation."