8,000 rescued from quake rubble, Turkey's Recep Erdogan says, as death toll hits 41,000

Rescue workers evacuate a victim pulled out of the rubble on February 7, the day after an earthquake hit Kahramanmaras, Turkey. Photo by Turk Jandarma/UPI
1 of 5 | Rescue workers evacuate a victim pulled out of the rubble on February 7, the day after an earthquake hit Kahramanmaras, Turkey. Photo by Turk Jandarma/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday more than 8,000 people have been pulled alive from the earthquake rubble in his country over the past week, highlighting emergency efforts in the midst of a rising death toll.

Erdogan said in a recorded message to the World Government Summit in Dubai that another 81,000 injured have been discharged from the hospital.


"I would like to thank once again to all the friendly and sisterly countries that have been collecting aid for our nation day and night, supporting our search-and-rescue efforts with their teams, and not forgetting us in their prayers," Erdogan said.

The earthquake, he said, "showed the importance of international solidarity."

The devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake followed by powerful aftershocks on Feb. 6, one nearly as powerful as the first tremblor, crumbled buildings and infrastructure through central and southern Turkey and northwestern Syria.

Turkey's disaster agency placed the country's death toll at 31,974 with 195,962 injured. Syrian government officials said 1,414 people died in locations they control.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said another 4,400 have died in the war-ravaged areas controlled by anti-government rebels.


The cumulative death figures from Turkey, Assad-regime officials, and Syrian Civil Defense, who work in opposition-controlled Syria, has reached 41,000.

U.N officials say that rescue efforts are coming to an end and that they are shifting focus to providing shelter, food and education to survivors.

On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that Syria has agreed to open additional border crossings from Turkey into those rebel-held areas to deliver humanitarian aid. Previously, only the damaged Babal-Hawa passage was open to receive goods.

"I welcome the decision today by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to open the two crossing points of Bab Al-Salam and Al Ra'ee from Tüurkey to northwest Syria for an initial period of three months to allow for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid," he said.

In the meantime, UNICEF said some 4.6 million children live in the 10 provinces affected by the earthquake and 2.5 million in Syria.

"The children and families of Turkey and Syria are facing unimaginable hardship in the aftermath of these devastating earthquakes," UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement.

"We must do everything in our power to ensure that everyone who survived this catastrophe receives life-saving support, including safe water, sanitation, critical nutrition and health supplies and support for children's mental health."


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