Over 34,000 dead from quake in Turkey and Syria

By Andrew Raine, Rhea Mogul, Matt Meyer and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 5:51 a.m. ET, February 13, 2023
16 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
9:56 a.m. ET, February 12, 2023

Earthquake death toll exceeds 33,000 across Turkey and Syria -- and is expected to rise

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce, Eyad Kourdi and Chris Liakos

People mourn their relatives at a mass grave in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, on February 10.
People mourn their relatives at a mass grave in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, on February 10. (Sedat Suna/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

The death toll across Turkey and Syria following Monday’s catastrophic earthquake has reached 33,181, according to the latest figures.

The death toll in Turkey has climbed to 29,605, Turkish Emergency Coordination Center SAKOM said Sunday.

In Syria, the total number of deaths stands at 3,576, including 2,168 in rebel-held areas in the northwest, according to the ‘White Helmets’ civil defense group, and 1,408 deaths in government-controlled parts of Syria, according to Syrian state media citing the health ministry on Saturday.

The White Helmets, who announced the end of their search and rescue operations on Friday, told CNN on Saturday that the total number of dead is expected to be much higher.

9:12 a.m. ET, February 12, 2023

Hatay airport in Turkey resumes operations following deadly earthquake

From Isil Sariyuce and Chris Liakos

Turkey’s Hatay airport – which is located in one of the provinces worst hit by Monday’s catastrophic earthquake – has resumed operations, the Turkish Transport Ministry said on Sunday.

“We quickly repaired the damage on the Hatay Airport runway. Our airport started to operate today,” Turkey’s Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure said in its official Twitter page, sharing before and after images of the airport’s runway, which was badly damaged following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and was deemed “unusable” by officials.

According to the IGA Istanbul Airport operator, the repair works began on February 8 and lasted 96 hours.

Istanbul Airport Technical Services deputy general manager Fırat Emsen stated that construction and technical teams worked non-stop for 4 days, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency.

The airport is expected to play a vital role in quickly and effectively distributing the logistics aid that was sent to the disaster area, ensuring that the aid is delivered to the earthquake victims in Hatay and surrounding provinces, Anadolu reported.

Emsen said it was “critical” to get the airport working again, according to the news agency.

The airport is located between Antakya and Iskenderun, two cities severely impacted by the earthquake.

8:44 a.m. ET, February 12, 2023

Austrian Army resumes rescue operations in Turkey following brief suspension over security risks

From CNN's Manveena Suri and Chris Liakos

The Austrian Army has resumed rescue operations in Turkey following a brief halt due to security risks, according to the Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit (AFDRU).

Operations were suspended early on Saturday due to an “increasingly difficult security situation,” AFDRU said in a statement that day, adding there was “increasing aggression between groups in Turkey.”

Later on Saturday, Austrian Army spokesman Michael Bauer said on Twitter that teams had resumed operations.

AFDRU posted a photo on Facebook with a caption stating that a rescue dog handler was again helping Turkish rescue workers, with Turkish forces providing security in the search areas.  

Since Tuesday, 82 AFDRU soldiers have been deployed and are scheduled to leave on Thursday.

German rescue operations “in general” remain suspended due to security concerns, the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) told CNN on Sunday.

However, it added that last night the agency's paramedics and technical equipment had supported Turkish teams in their efforts to get an 88-year-old woman out from under the rubble.

THW told CNN that the team would remain in Turkey “until search and rescue efforts are ended by Turkish officials.”

8:24 a.m. ET, February 12, 2023

Palestinian Red Crescent team arrives in Syria to provide mental health support to quake survivors

From CNN's Abeer Salman in Jerusalem and Manveena Suri

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Sunday that it was the first group to send a team to provide mental health support to earthquake victims in Syrian shelters.

“Among the tens of thousands of victims of the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, hundreds of children are languishing in hospitals and shelters without their families and homes,” read a statement issued by the group.
“Difficult times have been experienced by children since the earthquake. Some of them miraculously escaped death, but after their physical survival, psychological support teams of the Palestinian Red Crescent are working for their psychological survival,” the statement continued.

The group’s Psychosocial Support Team arranged events and activities for those in the shelters, including games for children.

The team also provided relief and stress management activities for 21 volunteers working at the association’s branch in Syria. 

The team of Palestinians along with local volunteers are also providing mental health services to about 300 children and their families in shelters and hospitals, who are suffering from severe trauma and depression as a result of the earthquake.

7:55 a.m. ET, February 12, 2023

Israeli aid group leaves Turkey due to ‘immediate’ security threat

From CNN’s Hadas Gold in Jerusalem

Israeli search-and-rescue group United Hatzalah is leaving Turkey after six days on the ground due to a “significant security threat” targeting the group, it announced Sunday.

United Hatzalah chief executive Eli Pollack and vice president of operations Dov Maisel said in a statement they had “received intelligence of a concrete and immediate threat on the Israeli delegation and we have to put the security of our personnel first.”

“We knew that there was a certain level of risk in sending our team to this area of Turkey, which is close to the Syrian border but we took the necessary steps in order to mitigate the threat for the sake of our lifesaving mission,” Maisel said. 

The decision came following a “a joint situational assessment with the heads of the [Israel Defense Forces] Home Front Command and Search and Rescue Units which took place on Saturday night,” they said. 

Due to the speed of the group’s departure and “lack of available planes,” Miriam Adelson – the widow of the late American Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson - donated her private jet to fly the team back to Israel on Sunday. 

“We are extremely proud of what our team has accomplished in just a few days, assisting in the rescue of 15 individuals in cooperation with the IDF Home Front Command, Israel’s Search and Rescue units, local rescue forces, and the Turkish Red Cross,” Maisel said. “I want to thank Dr. Adelson for assisting us in bringing our people back quickly and safely.”

A second Israeli aid group, IsraAid, continues to operate in Turkey. 

CNN has reached out to the Israel Defense Forces team in Turkey to see whether it is also departing.

6:59 a.m. ET, February 12, 2023

More than 2,000 people discharged from hospitals in Istanbul

From Reyhan Baysan in Istanbul

More than 2,000 people have been discharged from hospitals in the Turkish city of Istanbul following treatment for injuries suffered in Monday’s powerful earthquake, Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber reported on Sunday.

Thousands of injured people from the 10 earthquake-hit provinces in southern Turkey have been brought to Istanbul by military aircraft from the Turkish Armed Forces and ambulance aircraft from the Ministry of Health.

According to TRT Haber, 2,193 out of the 3,405 people brought to the city have been discharged, while treatment continues for 1,212.

Once in Istanbul, authorities have been transferring the injured to public, private and university hospitals in the city.

5:40 a.m. ET, February 12, 2023

Qatari emir en route to Istanbul to discuss quake aid with Turkish president

From CNN's Celine Alkhaldi in Abu Dhabi

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani is seen at the opening session of the Arab League in Tunisia on March 31, 2019.
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani is seen at the opening session of the Arab League in Tunisia on March 31, 2019. (Fethi Belaid/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad is en route to Istanbul from Doha to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a source familiar with the visit told CNN on Sunday.

“The two leaders will explore ways in which Qatar can support in the aftermath of the earthquake and the challenging situation in affected areas,” the source said.

Sheikh Tamim is the first leader to make an official visit to the country since the devastating earthquake struck southern Turkey on February 6.

Qatar said it was operating relief flights to Turkey to transport search and rescue teams, along with vehicles, a field hospital, tents and other supplies, Qatar's state news agency QNA reported.

4:33 a.m. ET, February 12, 2023

Girl, age 10, rescued from under rubble in Turkey after 147 hours 

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul

A 10-year-old girl was rescued from under rubble in southern Turkey's Hatay province 147 hours after Monday's devastating earthquake struck the region, according to the Istanbul municipality. 

Video shared by the municipality with CNN showed search and rescue teams pulling the girl, named Cudi, from the rubble and transporting her on a stretcher. 

"Cudi is our beloved. Beloved Cudi," a person in the video was heard saying, along with "Hallelujah!"

Another survivor, a 35-year-old man identified as Mustafa Sarıgül, was rescued from the ruins of a six-story apartment building in the same province on Sunday.

The death toll across Turkey and Syria has reached at least 28,192, with 24,617 in Turkey alone.

3:32 a.m. ET, February 12, 2023

Man rescued from under rubble in Turkey after 149 hours

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul

Medics carry Mustafa Sarıgül in a stretcher after spending 149 hours under rubble in Turkey's Hatay region on Sunday.
Medics carry Mustafa Sarıgül in a stretcher after spending 149 hours under rubble in Turkey's Hatay region on Sunday. (Mustafa Yilmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A 35-year-old man was rescued from under the rubble of a collapsed building in southern Turkey's Hatay province 149 hours after the powerful earthquake struck the region, Turkish state-news agency Anadolu reported.

The man, identified as Mustafa Sarıgül, was found among the ruins of a six-story apartment building during scans.

Search and rescue teams, as well as military personnel and members of the Romanian search and rescue team, worked for five hours to save the man.

The death toll across Turkey and Syria following Monday’s earthquake stands at 28,192 as of Sunday morning.