The quakes, the deadliest in Turkey since 1999, caused thousands of buildings to collapse, hospitals and schools to be ruined, and tens of thousands to be injured or homeless.
"Race Against Time" for Rescuers
Rescuers are working in harsh conditions to dig people out of the rubble of collapsed buildings, with the death toll expected to rise. The bitter winter weather is hampering rescue efforts and aid delivery, making the plight of the homeless even more miserable. The government plans to open up hotels in Antalya to temporarily house those impacted by the earthquakes.
Disaster Zone Declared
Erdogan declared the ten affected provinces a disaster zone and imposed a state of emergency in the region for three months. This will permit the president and cabinet to bypass parliament in enacting new laws and to limit or suspend rights and freedoms. The Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) reported 5,775 buildings destroyed and 20,426 people injured.
Concern for Children and Syrian Refugees
UNICEF voiced concern for the thousands of children that may have been killed in the disaster. Syrian refugees in northwest Syrian and in Turkey are among the most vulnerable people affected, according to UNICEF. Scores of schools, hospitals, and other medical and educational facilities have been damaged or destroyed.
"Every Minute, Every Hour" for Survivors
The World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was now a "race against time." The chances of finding survivors alive diminish with each passing minute. Rescuers are toiling through the night and into the morning, searching for survivors as people wait in anguish by mounds of rubble.
Drone footage showed dozens of collapsed apartment blocks, indicating that the true death toll is likely greater than the current tally. In Hama, a resident said it was a "terrifying scene in every sense," with funerals for several families taking place. Mosques have opened their doors to families whose homes were damaged.