Erdogan visits quake-hit area as death toll rises to 11,000



Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visited southern Turkey on Wednesday to see first-hand the destruction wrought by a massive earthquake as anger grew among local people over what they said was a slow government response to the rescue and relief effort.

The confirmed death toll from Monday’s quake, which struck a swathe of southern Turkey and neighbouring Syria, rose to more than 11,000 people in both countries.

The tally was expected to rise as hundreds of collapsed buildings in many cities have become tombs for people who had been asleep in the homes when the quake hit in the early morning.

In the Turkish city of Antakya, dozens of bodies, some covered in blankets and sheets and others in body bags, were lined up on the ground outside a hospital.

Families in southern Turkey and in Syria spent a second night in the freezing cold as overwhelmed rescuers tried to pull people from the rubble.

Many in the Turkish disaster zone had slept in their cars or in the streets under blankets, fearful of going back into buildings shaken by the 7.8 magnitude tremor and by a second powerful quake hours later.

The death toll rose above 8,500 in Turkey. In Syria, already devastated by 11 years of war, the confirmed toll climbed to more than 2,500 overnight, according to the Syrian government and a rescue service operating in the rebel-held northwest.

Erdogan, who has declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces and sent in troops to help, arrived in the city of Kahramanmaras to view the damage and see the rescue and relief effort.

In Hatay province, where dozens more bodies lay outside in rows between Red Crescent tents, people opened body bags hoping to identify loved ones.—Agencies