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Turkey and Syria earthquake death toll passes 15,000 as Erdoğan defends response

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Earthquake deaths pass 15,000

Turkey’s president has rejected growing criticism of the authorities’ response to Monday’s huge earthquakes, as the death toll passed 15,000 across Turkey and Syria and rescuers continued to pull survivors from the freezing rubble.

Making his first visit to Turkey’s worst-affected region since the 7.8- and 7.5-magnitude quakes hit within hours of each other, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan acknowledged early problems with Turkey’s response but said it was now working well.

“Of course, there are shortcomings. The conditions are clear to see. It’s not possible to be ready for a disaster like this,” Erdoğan said on a visit to Hatay, a southern province that has the highest death toll in the country.

Many Turks have complained of a lack of equipment and support as they waited helplessly next to the rubble of their apartment blocks, unable to rescue relatives and neighbours trapped inside despite sometimes hearing cries for help.


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