Erdogan admits ‘shortcomings’ as death toll from Turkey-Syria quake passes 12,000

Turkish leader visits disaster area, vows citizens will be cared for; amid harsh winter, time to save victims running out in both countries


A man reacts, after rescue teams found his father dead under a collapsed building, in Kahramanmaras, southern Turkey, February 8, 2023. (Hussein Malla/AP)

ANTAKYA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday conceded “shortcomings” after criticism of his government’s response to the massive earthquake that killed over 12,000 people in Turkey and Syria.

The sprawling scale of the disaster that flattened thousands of buildings, trapping an unknown number of people, has swamped relief operations already hampered by freezing weather.

Survivors have been left to scramble for food and shelter — and in some cases watch helplessly as their relatives called for rescue, and eventually went silent under the debris.

“My nephew, my sister-in-law and my sister-in-law’s sister are in the ruins. They are trapped under the ruins and there is no sign of life,” said Semire Coban, a kindergarten teacher, in Turkey’s Hatay.

“We can’t reach them. We are trying to talk to them, but they are not responding… We are waiting for help. It has been 48 hours now,” she said.

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