In the deadliest earthquake in over a decade, the death toll rose to more than 11,000 Wednesday. After a catastrophic earthquake toppled thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria, stretched rescue teams struggled through the night in search of survivors.
More than two dozen countries have sent search and rescue teams, and aid has poured in from around the globe. Many are still waiting for help because the magnitude 7.8 quake and its powerful aftershocks caused extensive damage and spread widely, including in areas isolated by conflict in Syria.
The rescuers were able to pull a 3-year-old boy, Arif Kaan, from under the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in Kahramanmaras, which is not far from the epicentre, on the second day after the earthquake. Many locals consider it a miracle coupled with the recuse of a newborn baby, with reports suggesting the baby was born during or after the quake struck, whose parents and four siblings died.
Kenan Akbayram, a geologist at the University of Bingöl, whose city was severely affected by the earthquake, says it is hard to predict how long aftershocks will last. Despite this, he says, estimates can be made by using aftershock forecasts based on past earthquakes.
As Akbayram points out, the earthquake was not unexpected. Several geologists say that the areas where the quake struck are what geologists refer to as seismic gaps, which are the areas where geologists predicted that a rupture would occur along the fault lines.
He warns that there are other fault zones in Turkey where no seismic activity has occurred in a long time, including the Aegean region, areas around the Marmara Sea, including the major cities of Bursa and Istanbul, as well as Bingöl, his hometown.
According to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 8754 deaths have been reported from Monday’s earthquake. Therefore, this brings the total official death toll to 11,224 after being combined with the 2,470 known deaths in Syria.
It is estimated that the final death toll could reach 20,000, according to the World Health Organization. At least 17,000 people were killed in a similar earthquake in the region in 1999.
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