Death Toll in Turkey, Syria Quake May Hit 10,000: USGS

Death Toll in Turkey, Syria Quake May Hit 10,000: USGS

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The total death toll from an earthquake that rocked southeast Turkey and northern Syria on Monday could reach as high as 10,000 people, the US Geological Survey (USGS) has estimated.

More than 500 people have been killed and some 3,000 others injured in Turkey and Syria after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit southern Turkey early Monday.

Rescuers are now frantically searching for survivors after the powerful quake shook the region, causing multiple aftershocks and sending tremors as far away as Lebanon and occupied Palestine. 

The quake struck 23 kilometers (14.2 miles) east of Nurdagi in Turkey's Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers (14.9 miles), and is one of the strongest to hit the region in more than 100 years, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

At least 284 people have died and more than 2,300 others were injured in Turkey, officials said. In neighboring Syria, at least 237 people died and 639 others were injured, state media reported, citing the Health Ministry. USGS estimated the total death toll could reach as high as 10,000 people.

Hospitals in northwest Syra are overwhelmed with patients filling the hallways.

Journalist Eyad Kourdi, who lives in Gaziantep, told CNN there were up to eight "very strong" aftershocks in under a minute after the quake. Dr. Mazen Kewara, SAMS Middle East director, said he was sheltering in his car with his family "in very very heavy weather" after the quake. They were sleeping "when we started to feel everything shaking around us," he said.

Nearly 1,000 search and rescue volunteers have been deployed from Istanbul to southern Turkey, officials said.

Poor weather, including snow and sub-zero temperatures, is likely to hamper the rescue efforts as a cold and wet weather system moves through the region. Temperatures will drop Tuesday, with the low in Gaziantep expected to fall to -6 degrees Celsius.

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