Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a three-month state of emergency in 10 provinces hit by devastating earthquakes and several aftershocks that have killed thousands of people and turned buildings to rubble across southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria.
“We have decided to declare a state of emergency to ensure that our [rescue and recovery] work can be carried out quickly,” Erdogan said in televised remarks on Tuesday, a day after a first 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in southern Turkey. The tremor was followed by dozens of powerful aftershocks, including another magnitude 7.6 quake.
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In his speech, Erdogan said 70 countries had offered help in search and rescue operations and that Turkey planned to open up hotels in the tourism hub of Antalya, to the west, to temporarily house people affected by the quakes.
He said the death toll in Turkey had risen to 3,549, with the total number of people killed, including those in northern Syria, exceeding 5,000.
Erdogan’s comments came as frantic search and rescue operations were under way for a second consecutive day amid freezing temperatures.
Countries and aid agencies have rushed to deploy personnel and offer humanitarian assistance.
But more bad weather is expected to hit the region, further hampering rescue operations. Downed buildings and destroyed roads have also made it difficult to find survivors and get crucial aid into affected areas. Several airports have also been closed after being damaged by the earthquakes.