February 8, 2023 Turkey-Syria earthquake news

By Rhea Mogul, Sana Noor Haq, Ed Upright, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Leinz Vales and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 0502 GMT (1302 HKT) February 9, 2023
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10:30 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Earthquake death toll surpasses 11,000 in Turkey and Syria

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce and Mostafa Salem

Smoke billows from Iskenderun Port as emergency workers continue rescue efforts in Iskenderun, Turkey, on February 7.
Smoke billows from Iskenderun Port as emergency workers continue rescue efforts in Iskenderun, Turkey, on February 7. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)

The death toll from the devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria has reached at least 11,376, according to authorities.

In Turkey, the death toll has risen to at least 8,574, with nearly 50,000 others reported injured, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised briefing Wednesday, during a visit to disaster areas near the epicenter of Monday's earthquake. 

In Syria, the total number of deaths now stands at 2,802, including 1,540 in rebel-held areas in the northwest, according to the "White Helmets," and 1,262 deaths in government-controlled parts of Syria, Health Minister Dr. Hassan al-Ghobash announced, according to Syrian state media.  

The total number of injured people in Syria across all affected territories rose to 5,008 [2,258 in government-controlled and 2,750 in the rebel-held area].

Aid agencies and emergency workers say the death toll is likely to increase further with many people still trapped under the rubble, and freezing weather conditions hampering rescue efforts.

CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali contributed to this post.

10:26 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Twitter restricted in Turkey, according to network monitoring firm

From CNN’s Brian Fung

Access to Twitter has been restricted in Turkey, according to reports by an internet monitoring company and journalists and academics tracking the country's response to the devastating earthquake this week.

On Wednesday, the network monitoring firm NetBlocks said traffic filtering had been applied at the internet service provider level that was preventing Twitter users from reaching the social media site.  

The report coincided with user claims that Twitter was inaccessible in the country, and as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began a tour of the affected region. 

"Widespread reports of Twitter being throttled in Turkey," tweeted Zeynep Tufekci, a professor at Columbia University who was born in Istanbul and a longtime scholar of large-scale social media usage. Tufekci added that some Twitter users had been expressing "increasing dissatisfaction" with Turkey's response effort.

Some Twitter users made appeals to Twitter CEO Elon Musk for help, tagging his Twitter handle in an apparent effort to flag the issue for his attention.

CNN has reached out to Twitter for comment.

10:24 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Turkey already had a fragile economy. Now, the stock market is suspended

From CNN's Anna Cooban

Turkey’s stock market has sunk 15% in the three days since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, piling further pain onto an already fragile economy.

Trading on Istanbul’s stock exchange was halted Wednesday after the main index dropped 7% in early dealing, according to Turkey’s Central Securities Depository.

The suspension came after the exchange attempted to restore calm by issuing two circuit breakers — a temporary stop in trading to stem panic-selling.

A spokesperson for the exchange did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Remember: Turkey is battling economic crises on several fronts. Annual consumer price inflation peaked at 85.5% in October, before falling back. But in January prices were still a whopping 57.7% higher than in the same month a year before, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute. While Turkey’s economy is exposed to the same forces of global inflation as other countries, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policies have aggravated the crisis.

Since September 2021, Turkey’s central bank has cut interest rates as prices have risen, while most of the rest of the world has been increasing rates rapidly to tame inflation.

Last month, the World Bank said it expected Turkey’s economy to grow 2.7% this year, down from 4.7% in 2022.

10:14 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Syria could be left behind in aid outreach, and politics may be to blame, analysts say

From CNN's Nadeen Ebrahim and Dalya Al Masri

Rescue operations continue in Aleppo, Syria, on Tuesday.
Rescue operations continue in Aleppo, Syria, on Tuesday. (White Helmets via Reuters)

While Turkey has received an outpouring of support and aid from dozens of countries after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, outreach to Syria has been less enthusiastic, and analysts warn that Syrian victims may become hostages of the politics that have divided Syria for over a decade.

Some background: Different parts of Syria are controlled by a different disparate groups. Its regime, led by President Bashar al-Assad, is shunned by most Western countries and heavily sanctioned due to its brutal suppression of an uprising there that started in 2011. The regime counts Iran and Russia as its closest allies – both global pariahs.

What are the different groups: Some of the areas of Syria most impacted by the earthquake are controlled by the regime, others by Turkish-backed and US-backed opposition forces, Kurdish rebels and Sunni Islamist fighters. Idlib, one of Syria’s last opposition strongholds, is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) organization, an armed Sunni Islamist group.

The complications in sending aid: So far, the UAE, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Egypt, Algeria and India have already sent relief directly to regime-controlled airports. Others such as Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, China, Canada and the Vatican have pledged aid; however it is unclear if that relief will be sent directly to the regime.

The regime insists that all aid to the country, including aid that is meant for areas outside its control, be directed to the capital Damascus. But that hasn’t been received well by activists and observers who fear that the regime could hamper timely aid to thousands of quake victims in rebel-held areas, most of whom are women and children, according to the UN.

Syria’s ministry of foreign affairs did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

“There is likely to be less international assistance provided to opposition areas because that is additionally complicated,” said Charles Lister, senior fellow and director of the Syria and Countering Terrorism & Extremism program at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. “It’s not an area controlled by a sovereign government and makes it difficult for aid operators.”

Workers unload aid sent by Iran at the Aleppo airport on Wednesday.
Workers unload aid sent by Iran at the Aleppo airport on Wednesday. (AFP via Getty Images)

Algerian rescue teams use a dog as they search the rubble in Aleppo on Wednesday.
Algerian rescue teams use a dog as they search the rubble in Aleppo on Wednesday. (AFP via Getty Images)

Additional reporting by CNN’s Chris Liakos

9:46 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

6 people including a child rescued in the 60th hour after Turkey's earthquake

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam 

Six people, including one child, were pulled out of the rubble alive in the 60th hour after an earthquake that struck Turkey on Monday, according to CNN's sister network CNN Turk.

CNN Turk cameras showed health officials running towards the rubble in Kahramanmaras.

A few minutes later, cameras showed a rescue team officer carrying a young child with short brown curly hair.  

The CNN Turk reporter called the rescue operation a "miracle escape" and "unbelievable."

The rescue happened in the city center of Kahramanmaras, according to the CNN Turk correspondent. 

9:39 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Official says nearly 300,000 people have been displaced by Syria quake, according to state news

From CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali

A man who evacuated his home warms up next to a fire on a street in Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday.
A man who evacuated his home warms up next to a fire on a street in Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday. (Firas Makdesi/Reuters)

More than 298,000 people in Syria have been forced to leave their homes as a result of the deadly earthquake, a local official said, according to state-run news.

Local Administration and Environment Minister Hussein Makhlouf said the earthquake’s death toll so far has risen to 1,262 and injuries have reached 2,258, in an apparent reference to the parts of Syria under government control and not those held by other factions.

“Our country is not qualified to deal with such disasters, especially with our exit from the war that caused the loss of 50,000 engineering machinery and equipment we desperately needed to use in this disaster, in addition to the economic sanctions applied to it,” Makhlouf said Wednesday during a press conference in Damascus, state media reported.

Makhlouf said the government had also opened 180 shelters for displaced people.

“We do not deny the difficulty of the situation compared to the available capabilities. Weather also had an impact on the rescue operations and the provision of relief, but despite this, the relief cadres and doctors did not hesitate to provide all the requirements,” Makhlouf added.

People who evacuated their homes sleep in their vehicle in Aleppo on Wednesday.
People who evacuated their homes sleep in their vehicle in Aleppo on Wednesday. (Firas Makdesi/Reuters)

People who evacuated their homes stand around a fire in Aleppo on Wednesday.
People who evacuated their homes stand around a fire in Aleppo on Wednesday. (Firas Makdesi/Reuters)

9:18 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Turkey continues to fight blaze at Iskenderun port

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce

Fires rage at the Iskendurun port as firefighters try to extinguish the flames in Hatay Province, Turkey, on Wednesday.
Fires rage at the Iskendurun port as firefighters try to extinguish the flames in Hatay Province, Turkey, on Wednesday. (Murat Sengul/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Turkey's Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said Wednesday that it is still fighting a blaze at the Iskenderun port.

"Our teams are working continuously at the Iskenderun Port to cool down the fire from air and land," according to its official Twitter account

A firefighter works at the port on Wednesday.
A firefighter works at the port on Wednesday. (Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters)

The port of Iskenderun on the Mediterranean coast remained closed following heavy damage from Monday’s earthquake and a subsequent fire that broke out among containers at the terminal. 

Firefighting ships attempt to extinguish the fire on Wednesday.
Firefighting ships attempt to extinguish the fire on Wednesday. (Lokman Akkaya/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A firefighting helicopter approaches the fire as smoke rises on Wednesday.
A firefighting helicopter approaches the fire as smoke rises on Wednesday. (Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters)

Containers at the port burn on Tuesday.
Containers at the port burn on Tuesday. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

The fire burns among flipped-over containers on Monday morning, hours after the earthquake struck.
The fire burns among flipped-over containers on Monday morning, hours after the earthquake struck. (Murat Sengul/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
8:21 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Dramatic photos show the moment an 8-year-old survivor was rescued and reunited with his mother

From CNN's Sarah Tilotta

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)

A series of dramatic photos show 8-year-old Yigit Cakmak being pulled from the rubble by emergency workers in Hatay, Turkey, 52 hours after the initial earthquake struck the region.

Getty photographer Burak Kara captured the photos of Cakmak as he was freed from the collapsed building.

The boy was passed over debris from rescuer to rescuer until he was finally in the arms of his mother who was waiting at the site.

The moment Cakmak was pulled from the destroyed building.
The moment Cakmak was pulled from the destroyed building. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)

Cakmak is passed across the rubble by a chain of rescuers.
Cakmak is passed across the rubble by a chain of rescuers. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)

Cakmak is finally reunited with his mother.
Cakmak is finally reunited with his mother. (Burak Kara/Getty Images)
9:35 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023

Syrian regime asks US and EU to lift sanctions

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem and Celine Alkhaldi

Rescuers search through rubble in Salqin, Syria, on Tuesday.
Rescuers search through rubble in Salqin, Syria, on Tuesday. (Omar Haj Kadour/AFP via Getty Images)

Syria’s government has ramped up its calls for the removal of economic US and EU sanctions in the aftermath of Monday's earthquake.

Relief groups working from government-controlled areas in Syria have pinned the lack of heavy machinery and medical equipment needed to remove rubble and treat the injured on the Western sanctions.

The measures were imposed on Syria to pressure the regime into a political process that could put an end to the ongoing civil conflict.

Some context: Most of the Syrian quake casualties have been reported in the northwest of the country, predominantly in the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus, according to the state news agency, SANA.

This region was already struggling to rebuild vital infrastructure heavily damaged by continual aerial bombardment during the country’s civil war, which the UN estimates to have claimed 300,000 lives since 2011.

Half of northwestern Syria’s 4.6 million population have been forced out of their homes by the conflict, with 1.7 million now living in tents and refugee camps in the region, according to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.

Several parts of northwestern Syria, including Idlib, are still controlled by anti-government rebels.

On Wednesday, the Syrian government’s foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, called on Europe to send aid, saying that sanctions should not be used “as an excuse.”

“Sending aid from Europe does not need to undergo a bureaucratic process. International law states that humanitarian aid is not be not subject to sanctions, so this is no excuse,” Mekdad told Lebanese outlet Al Mayadeen.

When asked whether the regime will allow aid into rebel-controlled territories, the Syrian government said that international aid will be distributed only by the Syrian government. 

“The Syrian state is ready to allow aid to enter into all regions, provided that it does not reach terrorist armed groups," Mekdad said.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that: “in Syria, we have a partner in the form of NGOs on the ground who are providing humanitarian support.”

“These partners, who unlike the Syrian regime, are there to help the people rather than brutalize them,” Price added.

CNN's Rhea Mogul, Isil Sariyuce, Gul Tuysuz and Jack Guy contributed reporting.