Turkey earthquake: Erdogan announces three-month state of emergency in quake area

Turkish Pres­ident, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has announced a three-month state of emergency in 10 provinces worst-affected by an earthquake that has killed thou­sands.

Mr Erdogan said that the death toll in Turkey has risen to 3,549 people.

More than 1,600 people are reported to have died in Syria.

In a televised address, Mr Erdo­gan said the state of emergency is to ensure that rescue work can be “carried out quickly” in the coun­try’s south-east.

He said the measures would allow relief workers and financial aid into the affected regions, but did not give further details.

The state of emergency will end just before elections on 14 May, when Mr Erdogan will attempt to stay in power after 20 years.

Turkey last imposed a state of emergency in 2016 after a failed coup attempt. It was lifted two years later.

Rescuers in Turkey are battling heavy rain and snow as they race against the clock to find survivors of the earthquake that struck in the early hours of Monday.

The World Health Organisa­tion has warned the toll may rise dramatically as rescuers find more victims.

Thousands of children may be among the dead following the earthquake and aftershocks, the United Nations has said.

Heavy machinery worked through the night in the city of Adana, with lights illuminating the collapsed buildings and huge slabs of concrete, in scenes repeated across southern Turkey.

Occasionally, the work stopped and a call of “Allahu Akbar” rose up when a survivor was found, or when the dead were recovered.

Adana is full of the homeless – those who lost their homes and others too fearful of aftershocks to return.

Some left without shoes, coats and phone chargers. Temperatures are expected to drop below freez­ing later this week.

The 7.8 magnitude tremor struck at 04:17 (01:17 GMT) on Monday at a depth of 17.9km (11 miles) near the city of Gaziantep, according to the US Geological Survey.

A later tremor had a magnitude of 7.5 and its epicentre was in the Elbistan district of Kahraman­maras province.

On Tuesday morning, traffic was at a standstill on the main highway to the Turkish city of Maras, close to the epicentre of the quake.

Cars occasionally crawled forward, the wet road illuminated by glowing red brake lights. Few rescuers have made it to this part of southern Turkey yet.

One search and rescue team on their way to the city, their van load­ed with specialist equipment and supplies, told the BBC they were eager to start looking for survi­vors, but they had no idea how bad the devastation would be when they arrived.

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