Turkey-Syria Earthquake Death Toll Reaches 20,000: 'We Can Call It the Disaster of the Century'

Turkey-Syria Earthquake Death Toll Reaches 20,000: 'We Can Call It the Disaster of the Century'

Authorities say more than 20,000 people have died in Turkey and Syria in wake of the devastating earthquake that rocked the region earlier this week.

Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) said at least 17,134 people have died in Turkey since the 7.8-magnitude quake struck early Monday morning, according to CNN and The New York Times.

"We can call it the disaster of the century," Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday at a news conference in Osmaniye, according to the Times.

At least 3,317 people have died in Syria, per CNN's report. The White Helmets civil defense group said 1,970 were killed in rebel-held regions, while Syrian state media reported 1,347 deaths in government-controlled areas.

Three Americans have died as a result of the quake, State Department spokesperson Ned Price confirmed Thursday.

RELATED: Newborn Baby Rescued from Rubble in Syria as Earthquake Death Toll Soars Past 6,000

syria-turkey earthquake
syria-turkey earthquake


Ten provinces in Turkey are now under a three-month state of emergency, according to the Times. However, the Turkish government has been criticized for its response to the event, as well as its lack of preparation.

"Nobody was here to help us," Nursen Guler said Wednesday, according to NBC News. "There are no teams here, everyone is waiting for rescue teams."

That same day, Erdoğan admitted the government was not entirely efficient in its initial response to the quake, and said the government would distribute 10,000 Turkish lira (or about $532) to families impacted by the disaster, according to a previous Reuters report.

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Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey's main opposition party, accused Erdoğan of not properly preparing the county for such a disaster, the Associated Press previously reported.

The Turkish government was also criticized for allegedly blocking access to Twitter for about 12 hours between Wednesday afternoon and early Thursday morning, per NBC News' report.

Turkish authorities said the blackout was aimed at combating disinformation about the disaster response, per the report.

syria-turkey earthquake
syria-turkey earthquake

Serkan Avci/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Also on Thursday, a six-truck convoy with shelter and non-food items passed through the Bab Al Hawa crossing, the only humanitarian aid corridor between Turkey and the rebel-held regions of Syria, according to CNN and the Times.

Delivering aid to those in need has proven to be among the biggest challenges following Monday's deadly earthquake. Aid had not passed through the access point for three days, per the reports.

RELATED: Father Holds the Hand of His Daughter Who Died Under Rubble Near Earthquake's Epicenter in Turkey

This is the deadliest earthquake worldwide since 2015, when a 7.8-magnitude quake left 8,800 people dead in Nepal, the AP reported.

There are still some signs of hope, however, as rescues continue.

In Hatay, a 21-year-old man was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building alive more than 84 hours after the earthquake struck, per CNN's report.

In Kahramanmaraş, a mother and her 6-year-old daughter were saved from the rubble of a building following a 20-hour rescue effort, according to the German organization @fire.

To help earthquake relief efforts in Turkey and Syria, consider donating to these organizations: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Doctors Without Borders, GlobalGiving, Save the Children, and The Syrian American Medical Society.