With hope of finding survivors fading, stretched rescue teams in Turkey and Syria searched Wednesday for signs of life in the rubble of thousands of buildings toppled by the world’s deadliest earthquake in more than a decade. The confirmed death toll approached 12,000.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the especially hard-hit Hatay province, where more than 3,300 people died and entire neighborhoods were destroyed. Residents there have criticized the government’s response, saying rescuers were slow to arrive.
Erdogan, who faces a tough battle for reelection in May, acknowledged “shortcomings” in the response to Monday’s 7.8 magnitude quake but said the winter weather had been a factor. The earthquake destroyed the runway in Hatay’s airport, further disrupting the response.
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Turkish authorities say they are targeting disinformation, and an internet monitoring group said access to Twitter was restricted despite it being used by survivors to alert rescuers.
Search teams from more than two dozen countries have joined tens of thousands of local emergency personnel in Syria and Turkey. But the scale of destruction from the quake and its powerful aftershocks was so immense and spread over such a wide area — including a region isolated by Syria’s ongoing civil war — that many people were still awaiting help.