The latest death toll from this morning’s devastating quakes has now exceeded 3,000 in Turkey and Syria, according to reports.
Some 2,316 people have now died in Turkey, according to the country’s disaster agency.
In neighbouring Syria, at least 1,293 people have died, according to the government and rescue groups cited by the AFP news agency.
It reports that in government-controlled areas, Syria’s health ministry says 593 people have now died. In rebel-held parts of the country’s north-west, at least 700 people were killed, according to the White Helmets rescue group, as quoted by AFP.
The earthquake which first hit near Gaziantep on Monday was estimated to be 7.8, classified as “major”, on the official magnitude scale. Its centre was relatively shallow at about 18km (11 miles), causing serious damage to buildings on the surface.
Prof Joanna Faure Walker, head of the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction at University College London, said: “Of the deadliest earthquakes in any given year, only two in the last 10 years have been of equivalent magnitude, and four in the previous 10 years.”
But it is not only the power of the tremor that causes devastation.
This incident occurred in the early hours of the morning, when people were inside and sleeping. The sturdiness of the buildings is also a factor.
Dr Carmen Solana, reader in volcanology and risk communication at the University of Portsmouth, says: “The resistant infrastructure is unfortunately patchy in south Turkey and especially Syria, so saving lives now mostly relies on response.
“The next 24 hours are crucial to find survivors. After 48 hours, the number of survivors decreases enormously.”
US President Joe Biden spoke earlier to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reaffirming “the readiness of the United States to provide any and all needed assistance”.
In a statement, the White House said Biden “noted that US teams are deploying quickly to support Turkish search and rescue efforts and co-ordinate other assistance that may be required by people affected by the earthquakes, including health services or basic relief items”.
It provided no further details about when and how many US rescuers would be deployed to the country.