Turkey Earthquake Toll Keeps Rising; WHO Fears Tens of Thousands May be Dead

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A fresh earthquake of magnitude 5.6 hit central Turkey on Tuesday, more than 24 hours after twin massive tremors unleashed widespread damage and loss of human lives.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said the newest earthquake to hit the region happened at a depth of 2 km.

Turkey earthquake
Dust engulfs the surroundings as another multistoried building is seen collapsing in Turkey as the country was hit by a strong 7.8 magnitude earthquake Twitter

Current Estimates

Even as rescue operations are slowed down by inclement weather there are fears that Monday's earthquake would go down as the most destructive in Turkey's modern history. Current estimates are that at least 4,000 people have died and tens of thousands have been injured.

Quake-hit Regions of Turkey and Syria
Quake-hit Regions of Turkey and Syria USGS

However, according to a disturbing report by the BBC, World Health Organisation authorities fear that the actual death toll could rise at least eight times this number. If it does happen, the death toll from the latest earthquake would be higher than the 33,000 people killed when a massive quake hit Turkey's eastern Erzincan province in 1939.

"The death toll from a strong earthquake in south-eastern Turkey, near Syria's border, could rise eight-fold, the World Health Organisation has warned," BBC reported.

"We always see the same thing with earthquakes, unfortunately, which is that the initial reports of the numbers of people who have died or who have been injured will increase quite significantly in the week that follows," AFP quoted WHO's senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, as saying.

Thousands Rescued

A day after the tremors struck in the wee hours of Monday, Turkey has said its emergency teams rescued 8,000 people trapped in as many as 4,758 buildings. "The weather conditions and the scale of the disaster make it hard for our teams to reach the region .... our helicopters could not take off today due to weather conditions," Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Turkey earthquake
A building seen collapsing to the ground in seconds as the 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Turkey Twitter

President Erdogan said at least 15,000 people have been injured. He announced a 7-day national mourning after the tragedy struck.

In Turkey and Syria together, at least 5,600 buildings were flattened in the wake of the earthquake. These included multi-storey residential apartments.

This article was first published on February 7, 2023