Turkey Syria earthquake: Death toll passes 15,000 as experts warn window of survival is closing
Almost 16,000 people are now feared dead following the earthquake in Syria and Turkey as experts say the window of survival is closing
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The death toll following the earthquake in Turkey and Syria is at almost 16,000. At least 15,865 people are feared dead, with over 12,000 fatalities in Turkey alone.
The aftermath of the earthquake has left thousands more people trapped under the rubble.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under criticism for the response effort following the earthquake. During a visit to a community in which over 3,000 people had been killed, He said: "It is not possible to be prepared for such a disaster. We will not leave any of our citizens uncared for."
Hitting back at criticism, the president accused his opponents of being negative towards him. He said: "I cannot stomach people conducting negative campaigns for political interest."
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that many who survived the initial earthquake could suffer through freezing weather. Earthquake response incident manager Robert Holden said: "We’ve got a lot of people who have survived now out in the open, in worsening and horrific conditions.
"We are in real danger of seeing a secondary disaster which may cause harm to more people than the initial disaster if we don’t move with the same pace and intensity as we are doing on the search and rescue."
Other experts have said the window for finding people alive in the rubble is closing. David Alexander, who is a professor of emergency planning and management at University College London, said to Sky News: "Statistically, today is the day when we’re going to stop finding people. That doesn’t mean we should stop searching."
Mr Alexander went on to say that the number of dead as a result of the earthquake may not be known for many weeks. Rescue teams from around the world continue to assist with efforts.
Three customers offered free calls to Turkey and Syria
Phone company Three have issued support for people trying to contact friends and family in the area hit by the earthquake. In a statement, they said: “For our customers who are contacting loved ones in Turkey and Syria following the devastating earthquake in the region, we’re here to help in any way we can.
“All charges associated with calls and texts from the UK to both Turkey and Syria from February 6 to 20 will be credited back to your account.”