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Rescue efforts intensify in Syria and Turkey as death toll climbs past 4,000

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Earthquake kills thousands in Turkey and Syria 02:54

Follow Tuesday's latest developments here. Our earlier coverage is below:

Rescue teams worked frantically through the night into Tuesday after a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southeast Turkey and war-torn northern Syria on Monday morning, crumbling buildings and killing more than 4,000 people, The Associated Press reported.

Turkish and Syrian officials have said they expect the death toll to climb, as they called on governments and international agencies to provide help. Many countries, in turn, have raced to deploy rescue teams, aid and equipment.

In Turkey alone, more than 5,600 buildings were destroyed, The Associated Press reported. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said 224 buildings in northwestern Syrian were destroyed and at least 325 were damaged, including aid warehouses. The U.N. had been assisting 2.7 million people each month via cross-border deliveries, which could now be disrupted.

Turkey earthquake hits as TV journalist broadcasts live 01:34

The first powerful quake struck before dawn on a rainy and snowy night. It was felt as far away as Cairo, Cyprus, Lebanon and even in Greenland and Denmark.


The world races to send aid and rescue teams to Turkey and Syria

Dozens of countries and international organizations have rushed to dispatch aid, personnel and equipment to help the rescue efforts in quake-stricken areas of Turkey and Syria. Here's a glance at what's being provided so far:

Earthquake disaster in Turkey and Syria - rescue workers
Search and rescue teams wait at the Cologne/Bonn Airport in Germany before departing to Turkey.  Federico Gambarini/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • The U.S. is coordinating to send immediate assistance to NATO-member Turkey, including teams to support search and rescue efforts. U.S.-supported humanitarian partners are also responding to the destruction in Syria. Nearly 100 Los Angeles County firefighters and structural engineers, along with a half-dozen specially trained dogs, were being sent to Turkey. President Biden spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday afternoon and said Washington was ready to provide "any and all needed assistance."
  • The European Union has mobilized search and rescue teams to help Turkey, and has activated the 27-nation bloc's Copernicus satellite system to provide emergency mapping services. At least 13 member countries have offered assistance. The EU said it's also ready to offer help to Syria through its humanitarian assistance programs.
  • Russian rescue teams from the Emergencies Ministry are preparing to fly to Syria, where the Russian military has a presence. Officials said 300 troops had already been deployed to affected areas to help clear debris and search for survivors. The Russian military also said it has set up points to distribute humanitarian assistance. Russia also has offered help to Turkey, which has been accepted.
  • War-ravaged Syria is calling on the United Nations and all member states to help with rescue efforts, health services, shelter and food aid. The affected area in Syria is divided between government-held territory and the country's last opposition-held enclave.
  • The Israeli army said it's sending a search and rescue team of 150 engineers, medical personnel and other aid workers to Turkey. The army said they would provide "immediate assistance in life-saving efforts." The two countries, once close regional allies, are in the process of mending ties after years of tensions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has also approved a request for humanitarian aid for Syria, received through a diplomatic official. Israel and Syria do not have diplomatic relations and the two countries have fought several wars.
  • Neighbor and historic regional rival Greece is sending Turkey a team of 21 rescuers, two rescue dogs and a special rescue vehicle, together with a structural engineer, five doctors and seismic planning experts in a military transport plane.
  • Germany's Foreign Ministry said it is coordinating its aid response with EU partners and readying deliveries of emergency generators, tents, blankets and water treatment equipment. The group International Search and Rescue Germany was also preparing to fly dozens of doctors and rescue experts to Turkey late Monday.
  • Britain is sending 76 search and rescue specialists with equipment and dogs, as well as an emergency medical team, to Turkey. The U.K. also said it's in contact with the U.N. about getting support to victims in Syria.
  • Swiss rescue dog service REDOG is sending 22 rescuers with 14 dogs to Turkey. The government said it would also send 80 search and rescue specialists to the country, including army disaster experts.
  • Mexico's foreign affairs secretary said the country will send equipment and rescue specialists to Turkey.
  • Spain was preparing to send two Urban Search and Rescue teams to Turkey with 85 personnel, and a contingent of volunteer firefighters.
  • Poland said it was sending Turkey 76 firefighters and eight trained dogs, with equipment.
  • Croatia is sending 40 men and 10 dogs, rescue equipment and vans to Turkey.
  • Serbia is sending 21 rescuers and three liaison officers to Turkey.
By The Associated Press

"They have torn my heart out"

A Syrian man weeps as he carries the body of his son who was killed in an earthquake in the town of Jandaris, in the countryside of Syria's northwestern city of Afrin in the rebel-held part of Aleppo province, on February 6, 2023.
A Syrian man weeps as he carries the body of his son who was killed in an earthquake in the town of Jandaris, in the countryside of Syria's northwestern city of Afrin in the rebel-held part of Aleppo province, on February 6, 2023. BAKR ALKASEM/AFP via Getty Images

In the quake-devastated town of Jandairis in northern Syria, a dazed father cradles the body of his lifeless baby, saying over and over, "Wake up, my boy, wake up."

"Ya Allah, ya Allah (My God, my God...)," he sobs, kissing the infant's head. "They have torn my heart out."

Dozens of homes crumpled in this town on the border with Turkey when the earth began to shake at 4:17 a.m. on Monday.

Residents used their bare hands and pickaxes to search the rubble for survivors as that was all they had to get the job done.

In another street, outside what was once a building, a young man in a state of shock holds his nephew in his arms.

He is still alive, but the young man, named Samer al-Saraqbi, has lost 12 of his family members, including his mother, his sister and her family in the earthquake.

His surviving nephew Ahmad — just 7 years old — has lost both parents and three of his siblings.

"Their mother and father will never come back," sobs Saraqbi.


Biden tells Turkish leader U.S. ready to help, White House says

President Biden told Turkey's leader the U.S. was ready to provide "any and all needed assistance" to the NATO ally, the White House said Monday.

Mr. Biden spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday afternoon, according to a White House readout of the call.

The president noted U.S. teams were deploying to the country to help with search and rescue efforts and coordinate other assistance, the White House said.

By Alex Sundby

Death toll surpasses 3,800

Turkish Vice President Fuat Otkay said 2,379 people were killed and 14,483 injured Monday, updating earlier numbers.

In Syria, at least 1,451 additional people died.

In government-controlled areas, the toll rose to "1,431 injured and 711 dead in the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, Tartus," Syria's Health Ministry said. In rebel-held parts of the country's northwest, at least 740 people were killed and more than 2,100 injured, according to the White Helmets rescue group.



"We thought it was the apocalypse"

Damaged and collapsed buildings are seen after an earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, February 6, 2023.
Damaged and collapsed buildings are seen after an earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, February 6, 2023. Ihlas News Agency via Reuters

Multistory apartment buildings full of residents were among the over 5,600 structures reduced to rubble in Turkey.

"That was the first time we have ever experienced anything like that," said Melisa Salman, a 23-year-old reporter in the southeastern Turkish city of Kahramanmaras.

"We thought it was the apocalypse."

In the southeastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa, rescuers were working into the night to try and pull survivors from the wreckage of a seven-story building that had collapsed.

"There is a family I know under the rubble," said 20-year-old Syrian student Omer El Cuneyd.

"Until 11:00 a.m. or noon, my friend was still answering the phone. But she no longer answers. She is down there."

Despite temperatures falling below zero, frightened residents in the city were preparing to spend the night on the streets, huddling around fires for warmth.

Nearby, Mustafa Koyuncu was sitting packed inside his stationary car with his wife and their five children, scared to move.

"We are waiting here because we can't go home," the 55-year-old told AFP. "Everyone is afraid."


Death toll surpasses 3,700

Turkish authorities said 2,316 people were killed and 13,293 injured in Monday's devastating earthquakes.

The emergency services said 7,340 people had been rescued so far. The update brings the total number of quake fatalities in Turkey and neighboring Syria to 3,705.



U.S. to deploy urban search and rescue teams

Urban search and rescue teams from the U.S. will be deployed in response to Monday's disaster, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power announced.

The teams will come from the fire departments in Fairfax County, Virginia, and Los Angeles County in Southern California, Power said in a statement.

"The United States is committed to providing immediate, life-saving humanitarian assistance on both sides of the border to help communities recover from this disaster," Power said.

The agency has already deployed a disaster assistance response team to assess the situation and identify "priority humanitarian needs," Power said.

By Alex Sundby

Death toll surpasses 3,000 with latest updates from Syria

At least 1,293 people have died across Syria, according to the latest updates from rescuers and the country's government.

Earlier, Turkish government officials reported another 1,762 fatalities, putting the combined total at 3,055.



Video shows rescuers pulling boy from rubble in Syria

A young boy was pulled from the rubble of his home in a village in northern Syria, the White Helmets rescue agency said on Twitter.

The group said the boy, Ahmed, was rescued in Qatma, north of Aleppo.

A video posted by the group shows the boy being rushed away from the scene for medical treatment.

By Alex Sundby

Death toll surpasses 2,800 with latest update from Turkey

The director of Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management agency, AFAD, said at least 1,762 people have died, according to the Reuters news agency. The latest figure raised the overall death toll to over 2,800.

By Alex Sundby

Turkey declares 7 days mourning after "once in a hundred years" disaster

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared seven days of national mourning following the deadly quakes that hit the country Monday. Turkish flags will fly at half-staff across the nation and at its diplomatic missions overseas.

The Turkish Vice President, Fuat Oktay, said such a disaster could hit "once in a hundred years," and that his country should be prepared for the death toll — already over 1,600 in Turkey alone — to rise.

Oktay also said some 145 aftershocks were registered following the deadly quake overnight, with three that were larger than 6.0 magnitude.

Turkey Earthquake
Emergency team members carry the body of a person found in the rubble of a destroyed building in Adana, Turkey, February 6, 2023, after a powerful earthquake struck southeast Turkey and northern Syria. Khalil Hamra/AP

Turkey's minister of education, meanwhile, extended school closures to cover all 81 of the country's provinces until February 13. Schools were closed for a two-week holiday and had been set to reopen Monday, but many were still closed in some cities because of snowstorms. 



Quake damages even more hospitals in rebel-held region of Syria as patients flood in

A steady stream of injured were flowing into an overwhelmed hospital in the town of Darkush, in rebel-held northwestern Syria on Monday, after a deadly earthquake struck the region. Mothers hovered over crying children.
Amid the chaos, one man sat with a dazed expression, his face covered with abrasions.
The man, Osama Abdul Hamid, had barely made it out alive with his wife and four children from his apartment building in the nearby village of Azmarin. Many of their neighbors were not so lucky.
"The building is four stories, and from three of them, no one made it out," Abdul Hamid said, breaking down in tears. "God gave me a new lease on life."
At an equally overwhelmed hospital in Idlib city, Shajul Islam, a British doctor who works with several non-governmental organizations, was having the worst day in his seven years working in Syria.

Syria Earthquake
Earthquake victims receive treatment at the al-Rahma Hospital in the town of Darkush, Idlib province, northern Syria, February 6, 2023. Ghaith Alsayed/AP

"I'm literally taking a patient off a ventilator to give another patient a chance, having to decide which patient has more of a chance of surviving or not," Islam said. "We've got quite a lot of hospitals that had been previously hit in the war. So they had already the foundations, everything had already been weakened," he said.

With the added blow of the earthquake, he said, "We've had at least three or four hospitals that I know of that have been put out of service."

By The Associated Press

Syrian rescuers say more than 430 killed in rebel-held regions, "hundreds of families" still feared trapped

A civilian rescue agency that has long worked in war-torn Syria said Monday that the death toll in Syria's rebel-held northern regions from the massive earthquake that struck earlier in the day had risen to more than 430.

In a tweet, the White Helmets rescue agency said at least 1,050 more people were injured, and it feared the death toll was likely to keep rising as "hundreds of families" were still believed to be buried under the rubble of severely damaged buildings.

By Tucker Reals

Latest tallies from Turkish and Syrian officials puts total death toll over 2,300

More than 1,500 people were killed in 10 Turkish provinces, with some 9,700 injured, according to Turkish authorities. The death toll in government-held areas of Syria climbed to over 460 people, with some 1,300 injured, according to the Health Ministry. In the country's rebel-held northwest, groups that operate there said the death toll was at least 380, with many hundreds injured.  

By The Associated Press

Earthquake damages ancient Gaziantep Castle in Turkey

An ancient castle in Turkey was one of the historic monuments damaged when major earthquakes hit the country and neighboring Syria, killing more than 2,000 people on Monday. Images show parts of the Gaziantep Castle, which was first built in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, during the Roman Empire, crumbling after the earthquake.

By Caitlin O'Kane

Russia says Syria, Turkey "warmly thanked" Putin for offer of quake help

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke Monday with his Turkish and Syrian counterparts and expressed his deep condolences over the earthquakes that left more than 2,000 people dead in both countries and to offer Russia's help. 

Putin reaffirmed his readiness to immediately provide Turkey and Syria with help, and the Syrian leader, whom Putin helped to keep in power through a grueling civil war with lethal Russian military aid, quickly accepted, according to the Kremlin.

"Bashar al-Assad gratefully accepted this offer, and in the coming hours rescuers of the Russian emergencies ministry will fly to Syria," the Kremlin said in a statement.

"The Turkish president warmly thanked Vladimir Putin for such a prompt and sincere reaction and said that he was giving instructions to the competent authorities of the country to accept the help of Russian rescuers," it added.

By Tucker Reals

Biden tweets his condolences to Turkey and Syria, pledges help

President Joe Biden said he was "deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by the earthquake" in Turkey in Syria on Monday.

The U.S. leader added that he had instructed staff "to continue to closely monitor the situation" and coordinate with officials in Turkey to provide "any and all needed assistance."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a statement released not long after, reiterated the condolences on behalf of the American government and said the Biden administration was still "assessing our comprehensive response options."

"I have directed my team to remain in close contact with our Turkish allies and our humanitarian partners in the coming days to determine what the region needs," Blinken said, adding that an "initial assistance response" for Turkey was already underway, "and U.S.-supported humanitarian organizations in Syria are responding to the earthquakes' effects across the country. We are determined to do all that we can to help those affected by these earthquakes in the days, weeks, and months ahead."

By Tucker Reals

School canceled for a week in quake-ravaged parts of Turkey

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay said Monday that schools in 10 cities and provinces across the country that were affected by the earthquakes would be closed for a week. Those areas include: Hatay, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş, Osmaniye, Adıyaman, Malatya, Şanlıurfa, Adana, Diyarbakır and Kilis.

Oktay also said flights to and from the airport in Hatay were suspended and civilian flights were no longer permitted to fly into airports in Maraş and Antep.

By Haley Ott

Huge fires reportedly caused by earthquakes spotted along gas pipelines in Turkey

Videos emerged on social media Monday showing large fires sending thick smoke into the air in southern Turkey, with people claiming that the powerful earthquakes that hit the region had ruptured natural gas pipelines.

According to BBC News, Turkey's energy minister said there had been serious damage to the country's energy infrastructure, including gas pipes near the epicenter in southeast Turkey, but he did not mention fires or explosions.

The BBC said it had verified one of the social media videos as showing a blaze on the outskirts of the city of Hatay, about 100 miles southwest of Gaziantep, where the first powerful temblor struck.

By Tucker Reals

EU to send search and rescue teams to assist Turkey

The European Union said it had mobilized urban search and rescue teams from Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Malta in response to a request from Turkey for assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism after two major earthquakes hit the country on Monday.

The EU also said that its Copernicus satellite system had been "activated to provide emergency mapping services."

Syria Earthquake
Civil defense workers and residents search through the rubble of collapsed buildings in the town of Harem near the Turkish border, Idlib province, Syria, Feb. 6, 2023. Ghaith Alsayed/AP

It said that it was ready to provide assistance to Syria as well through its humanitarian assistance program.

"Our thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones and the brave first responders working to save lives," the European Commission said in a statement.

By Haley Ott

Jordan's queen offers sympathy to neighbors as quakes rattle people awake across borders

Amman — Jordanian seismologists registered more that 110 aftershocks in the country after the two massive earthquakes hit southeast Turkey on Monday. Head of Jordan's seismology center, Ghassan Sweidan, told local television that "the center is still recording more tremors from time to time."

Residents of the capital Amman, some 425 miles away from the epicenter of the quakes, were woken up at 4:17 a.m. local time by the tremors. Local media reported that part of an old building collapsed in the northern Jordanian city of Irbid, but there were no casualties reported. 

Many Jordanians took to social media to express sympathy with their neighbors. 

"Our hearts and prayers are with all the victims, the injured, and those who lost their homes or loved ones in today's devastating earthquakes," tweeted Jordan's Queen Rania.

By Amjad Tadros

Harrowing video shows TV news journalist as Turkey quake hits

A journalist was reporting on live TV Monday after the devastating earthquake in Turkey when the ground began to shake under him and he was forced to flee the area. The video shot by the reporter's camera operator shows buildings collapsing around them as they and others on the street run for safety. Watch here:

Turkey earthquake hits as TV journalist broadcasts live 01:34
By Haley Ott

Turkey earthquakes felt as far away as Greenland and Denmark

Officials from Greenland and Denmark said two massive earthquakes that struck Turkey on Monday registered on seismographs in both countries, as did many of their aftershocks.

"We have registered both earthquakes -- and a lot of aftershocks -- in Denmark and Greenland," Tine Larsen, a seismologist from the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, said.

"The waves from the earthquake reached the seismograph on the Danish island of Bornholm approximately five minutes after the shaking started," Larsen told the AFP news agency. "Eight minutes after the earthquake, the shaking reached the east coast of Greenland, propagating further through all of Greenland," she said.

By Haley Ott

White Helmets ask international community for help

A representative from the White Helmets, a civil defense organization that works in Syria, often rescuing people from bombed-out buildings, called on the international community after Monday's quakes "to save our people."

"Many buildings in different cities and villages in northwestern Syria collapsed, destroyed by this earthquake. Our teams responded to all the sites and the buildings — and still now, many families are under the rubble. We are trying to save them but it's a very hard task for us," Ismail Al Abdullah told CBS News partner network BBC News.

Syria Earthquake
Civil defense workers and security forces search through the wreckage of collapsed buildings in Hama, Syria, Feb. 6, 2023. Omar Sanadik/AP

"We need help. We need the international community to do something, to help us, to support us. Northwestern Syria is now a disaster area. We need help from everyone to save our people."

By Haley Ott

Second large earthquake strikes Turkey

A second large earthquake struck south-eastern Turkey on Monday, Reuters reported, citing Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). AFAD reportedly said the earthquake was magnitude 7.6 and occurred at a depth of four miles.

AFAD said the second quake struck the same region that was hit earlier on Monday by another major earthquake that has left hundreds dead and thousands injured. The epicenter of the second earthquake was the Elbistan region of Kahramanmaras Province, Reuters reported.

By Haley Ott

Region knows suffering all too well

The temblor struck a region that's been shaped on both sides of the border by more than a decade of civil war in Syria. On the Syrian side, the swath affected is divided between government-held territory and the country's last opposition-held enclave, which is surrounded by Russian-backed government forces. Turkey, meanwhile, is home to millions of refugees from that conflict.

The opposition-held regions in Syria are packed with some 4 million people displaced from other parts of the country by the fighting. Many of them live in buildings that are already wrecked from past bombardments. Hundreds of families remained trapped in rubble, the opposition emergency organization, called the White Helmets, said in a statement.

By The Associated Press

Winter adding to misery

Shocked survivors in Turkey rushed out into the snow-covered streets in their pajamas, watching rescuers dig through the debris of damaged homes with their hands.

"Seven members of my family are under the debris," Muhittin Orakci, a stunned survivor in Turkey's mostly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, told Agence France-Presse.

"My sister and her three children are there. And also her husband, her father-in-law and her mother-in-law."

The rescue was being hampered by a winter blizzard that covered major roads in ice and snow. Officials said the quake made three major airports in the area inoperable, further complicating deliveries of vital aid.


Death toll keeps climbing

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the death toll in his nation had risen to 912.  The death toll in government-held areas of Syria climbed to 237 with more than 630 injured, according to Syrian state media. At least 120 people were killed in rebel-held areas, according to the White Helmets, the emergency organization in opposition areas.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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