Revised toll shows over 50,000 killed in Turkey, Syria earthquake

AFP reports figures from government and rebel-held Syrian areas show 5,951 people were killed, while Turkey recorded 44,374 deaths after February 6 disaster

People stand by a building destroyed in recent earthquake in Aleppo, Syria,  February 27, 2023. (Omar Sanadiki/AP)
People stand by a building destroyed in recent earthquake in Aleppo, Syria, February 27, 2023. (Omar Sanadiki/AP)

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria killed more than 50,000 people, in a toll revised by AFP that includes figures from both government and rebel-controlled parts of war-torn Syria.

A total of 5,951 people were killed across Syria, while Turkey recorded 44,374 deaths after the February 6 earthquake.

The new tally brings to 50,325 the total number of deaths caused by the disaster across both countries.

The Syrian government said 1,414 people had been killed in areas under its control, while Turkish-backed officials in Syria have put the death toll at 4,537 throughout rebel-held areas of the country.

The toll in areas outside government control includes deaths in territory held by rival rebel groups.

Local authorities relied on data collected from hospitals, medical centers and civil defense in Idlib and northern Aleppo province, health official Maram al-Sheikh told AFP.

They also included civilian sources, he said, many of whom buried their dead without taking them to hospital.

The toll was finalized with help from the Assistance Coordination Unit (ACU) organization, a local United Nations partner.

People sit by a building destroyed in a recent earthquake in Aleppo, Syria, February 27, 2023. (Omar Sanadiki/AP)

The UN said it relied on the ACU’s data, including death tolls.

The death toll in rebel areas was “almost final since most victims have been pulled from under the rubble,” he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor had reported 2,243 people killed in government-held areas — recording 824 more deaths than the official toll.

Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based group, said their tally was higher because it included “50 villages that rescuers did not reach.”

The group, which relies on a wide network of sources inside Syria, had reported the same death toll as the rebels in the northwest.

AFP had previously reported 3,688 deaths across Syria, compiling official government figures and data released by the White Helmets rescue group in the northwest.

The rebel rescuers told AFP their toll mostly included bodies they had removed from the rubble themselves.

The quake came nearly 12 years into Syria’s civil war which devastated swaths of the country, killed nearly half a million people and displaced millions more.

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