The twin earthquakes centred in Turkey’s southern Kahramanmaraş province with magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.6 have claimed close to 20,000 lives in Turkey and Syria since Monday night.
At least 16,546 people have lost their lives in Turkey, according to figures Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Thursday evening. The number of wounded has climbed to 66,132, he added.
According to Turkish state broadcaster TRT’s Arabic service, Syria’s casualties reached 3,317 while 5,245 people are wounded.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued an estimated total of 20,000 casualties.
The number of unaccompanied children rescued from rubble is also on the rise, and the Turkish Family Ministry has established a call centre.
President Erdoğan, after remaining silent for the first two days of disaster response, visited Kahramanmaraş and Hatay on Wednesday and has been visiting several of the affected cities including İskenderun, Adana, Gaziantep, Osmaniye and Kilis on Thursday.
Survivors and rescue workers have complained that security measures implemented for Erdoğan’s visits, including GSM signal jammers, have been impeding efforts.