Death toll rises above 44,000 in Turkey-Syria earthquake

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On Saturday, February 18, Turkish authorities announced that the death toll from the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria had risen to over 44,000.

Yunus Sezer, the head of Turkey’s disaster agency, said rescue operations would be “largely completed” by Sunday night, with the number of dead bodies reduced to a handful at press time.

On Saturday, state news agency Anadolu reported that three people had been found alive nearly two weeks after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on February 6. However, the agency later announced that one of them, a 12-year-old boy, had died.

Rescuers placed a man and a woman on stretchers after the married couple and their child spent 296 hours under the rubble in Antakya, Turkey’s southeastern city.

The agency later reported that three of their children, including the 12-year-old, had died.

Teams in the surrounding Hatay province pulled four people alive from the rubble on Friday, including a 45-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy.

Rescues that were initially met with applause and relief have been met more soberly in recent days.

Officials and medics said 40,642 people died in Turkey and 3,688 in Syria as a result of the earthquake, bringing the confirmed death toll to 44,330. Syria’s death toll has remained unchanged for several days.

The quake struck one of the world’s most active seismic zones while many people were sleeping in homes that had not been designed to withstand such powerful tremors.