Rescue teams search for victims among the rubble on the second day after the earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey on Tuesday. Photo by Association AKUT/UPI | licensed photo

February 8 (UPI) — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to arrive in southern Turkey on Wednesday to examine some of the worst damage from Monday’s earthquake that devastated his country and Syria, killing thousands.

Emergency crews continued to dig through the rubble of the collapsed buildings, some barely sleeping, in the hope of finding survivors and recovering the bodies. Turkey, a member of NATO and the European Union, has asked for international assistance in response to the crisis.

“We are facing one of the biggest disasters not only in the history of the Republic of Turkey, but also in our geography and in the world,” Erdogan said, Anadolu news agency reported.

Erdogan will visit the central city of Kahramanmaras along with the Pazarchik district. Then he will go to Hatay. An earthquake of magnitude 7.8 and its powerful tremors caused significant damage to these areas.

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Turkey’s emergency agency officials put the country’s death toll on Wednesday at 7,108 with 49,910 injured. Turkey has declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces: Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

The Syrian Civil Defense, better known as the White Helmets, said more than 1,280 people had died and more than 2,600 were injured in non-government-controlled areas in northwestern Syria.

The humanitarian aid agency, which has helped Syrians affected by the country’s decade-long civil war, said four of its volunteers were among those killed in the quake.

With deep sorrow, we mourn the deaths of 4 White Helmets volunteers and their families, who were victims of the devastating #earthquake that hit the northwest #Syria on February 6th. Our condolences to their families and to our Syrian people. pic.twitter.com/ygPW4HTtJk — White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 8, 2023

The United Nations said on Tuesday it would send $25 million to the affected region to spur an increase in humanitarian aid. The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund will help charities in both countries provide services to those in need.

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“Martin Griffiths, Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, says he wants to reassure people that they are not alone and that the humanitarian community will stand by them every step of the way as they get out of this crisis.” This was stated at a briefing by UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The weather also plays a major role in rescue and recovery efforts, with freezing temperatures lowering as many survivors are exposed due to severely damaged infrastructure. Those trapped under the rubble have been going without food or water for days, putting them at risk of hypothermia.

“We have to fight the weather and the earthquake at the same time,” said Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay.

The World Health Organization said that about 23 million people in the region are in need of assistance due to the earthquake and its aftermath.

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