The death toll from the massive earthquake that hit parts of Türkiye and Syria on Feb. 6 continues to rise as more bodies are retrieved from the rubble of demolished buildings.
A magnitude 6.4 earthquake that struck the already battered Turkish province of Hatay this week damaged or demolished more buildings, compounding the devastation.
Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has raised the number of fatalities in Türkiye from the magnitude 7.8 earthquake to 43,556.
The combined death toll in Türkiye and Syria now stands at 47,244.
In an interview with state broadcaster TRT late on Wednesday, Soylu said teams were sifting through two buildings in Hatay in search of further bodies. Search operations elsewhere have come to an end, he said.
Meanwhile, at least 164,000 buildings have either collapsed or are so damaged that they need to be demolished, said Murat Kurum, Türkiye’s minister for the environment and urbanization.
Türkiye will widen an investigation into building contractors suspected of violating safety standards following the earthquake, Soylu said.
He added that 564 suspects had been identified so far, with 160 people formally arrested and many more still under investigation.
“Our cities will be built in the right places, our children will live in stronger cities. We know what kind of test we are facing, and we will come out of this stronger,” he said.
The local civil defense in northwestern Syria, known locally as The White Helmets, said Thursday that thousands of children and tens of thousands of families have taken shelter in cars and tents “fearing they would face a repeat of the earthquake.”