Turkey earthquake death toll nears 8,000, WHO says ‘23 million people could be affected’

Aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Turkey. [Photo: Twitter/ AllahGreatQuran]

The death toll of the devastating earthquakes in southern Turkey and Syria nears 8,000, amid warnings from the World Health Organization that the toll may surpass 20,000 as rescuers find more victims.

More than 23 million people could be affected by the disaster, the world health body warned on Tuesday.

Earlier, the death count in Turkey was 5,894 and 1,932 in Syria. The number of injured rose to 31,777 and 1,449 respectively in Turkey and Syria, according to Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and the media office at the Aleppo governorate headquarters.

The death toll in both countries is expected to rise further as the rescue operations are hampered by bad weather, the BBC reported.

A powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck Turkey`s southern province of Kahramanmaras at 4:17 am local time on Monday, followed by a magnitude 6.4 quake a few minutes later in the country`s southern province of Gaziantep and a magnitude 7.6 earthquake at 1:24 p.m. local time in Kahramanmaras.

Turkey`s southern province of Hatay and Syria`s northern Aleppo city suffered the biggest loss of lives, while Lebanon, Israel and Cyprus also felt the tremor, the BBC reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency on Tuesday in 10 of the country`s provinces hit by the quakes.

The decision was taken in order to ensure that search and rescue activities and subsequent studies can be carried out quickly, he said at a press conference.

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