February 11, 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquake news

By Kathleen Magramo, Andrew Raine, Sophie Tanno, Amarachi Orie, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 0519 GMT (1319 HKT) February 12, 2023
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12:17 a.m. ET, February 12, 2023

Our live coverage of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria has moved here.

7:23 p.m. ET, February 11, 2023

Man in viral photo holding hand of daughter stuck in rubble in Turkey says she had no chance to escape

From CNN's Talia Kayali and Karen Smith

Mesut Hancer holds the hand of his 15-year-old daughter Irmak, who was killed in the earthquake.
Mesut Hancer holds the hand of his 15-year-old daughter Irmak, who was killed in the earthquake. (Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images)

A father who was photographed holding the hand of his 15-year-old daughter under earthquake rubble in Kahramanmaras this week said she died at the moment of the earthquake with no chance to escape.

Speaking to CNN Turk on Saturday, Mesut Hancer said he lost other family members in the earthquake including his mother, two older brothers and one sister-in-law.

Hancer said he was able to get to his daughter three days after the earthquake. She had been visiting her paternal grandmother in Kahramanmaras.

“It was very bad. I went there just as soon as I heard. I tried alone, with my hands to pull my daughter out but unfortunately I couldn’t rescue my daughter,” Hancer told CNN Turk.

He said his daughter’s body above her waist had been outside the rubble but the rest was under the rubble. Authorities were unable to bring a construction lift to help pull out her body and a man helped him dig his daughter’s body out.

Hancer also told CNN Turk he is currently without a home due to the damage that occurred on his house.


7:14 p.m. ET, February 11, 2023

Italian Defense Minister says aid for Syria being routed through Beirut

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said in a tweet Saturday that aid to Syria was being routed through Beirut, Lebanon. 

"We were the first in Europe to send aid to Syria. (The aid is) transported to Beirut because it was not possible for us to land in Aleppo. Now (it) will reach Damascus and be sorted by the Red Crescent," the tweet read. 

More than 28,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands injured after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Turkey and Syria on Monday, officials said.

Earlier Saturday, the Italian Government Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a news release, "A new shipment of aid is now departing from Pisa airport and will land in the coming hours in Beirut and then be transferred by land to Syria. It consists of four ambulances and 14 doctors, as well as medicines and medical supplies, offered by the San Donato Group, which will be destined for the Syrian Red Crescent to assist the people in Syria."

Rescue operations are over in rebel-held areas of northwest Syria, the White Helmets volunteer organization said on Friday. Relief efforts there have been complicated by a long-running civil war.

The Syrian government approved sending aid to the rebel-held territories Friday but did not provide specifics.

4:30 p.m. ET, February 11, 2023

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.

2:35 p.m. ET, February 11, 2023

The survival window is closing, but there have been remarkable rescues in Turkey and Syria. Here's a list

From CNN's Amarachi Orie

Rescue workers carry Yigit Cakmak from the site of a collapsed building in Hatay, Turkey, on Wednesday, February 8.
Rescue workers carry Yigit Cakmak from the site of a collapsed building in Hatay, Turkey, on Wednesday, February 8. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)

Five days after the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, teams are rushing to save victims that could still be alive under rubble, with a UN liaison officer in Turkey warning that they are "approaching the end of the search and rescue window."

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.
  • Around the same time, rescue workers lifted a 34-year-old man, Ergin Guzeldogan, from deep within the ground in the province of Hatay, video from the Municipality of Istanbul showed.
  • A 70-year-old woman, named as Menekse Tabak, was rescued from the rubble in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, 121 hours after the quake hit.
  • A 16-year-old boy was pulled out alive from wreckage in the same region just a few hours earlier. Another teenage survivor, a boy aged 14, was found after 24 hours.
  • The same city saw the discovery of multiple families, including two brothers and their mother who were rescued after 78 hours, and a mother and her 6-year-old daughter who were found after 68 hours.
  • In what a CNN Turk reporter called a "miracle escape," six people, including one child, were pulled out of the rubble alive in the 60th hour in the center of Kahramanmaras.
  • Sisters Fatma and Merve Demir were rescued from under concrete in Turkey on Wednesday, after spending 62 hours beneath a collapsed building.
  • 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 10-year old was found alive in the same region after 90 hours, where a 21-year-old man was rescued six hours earlier.
  • 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 signs a condolence book at the Turkish Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 11.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signs a condolence book at the Turkish Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 11. (Turkish Embassy in Kyiv/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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

Medical supplies from China's Red Cross arrive in Damascus, Syria, on February 10.
Medical supplies from China's Red Cross arrive in Damascus, Syria, on February 10. (VCG/Getty Images)

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 carry aid into Syria.
Vehicles carry aid into Syria. (Bab al-Hawa)

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.