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Death toll exceeds 11,200 in Turkey, Syria earthquake

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The death toll from a massive earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria topped 11,200 on Wednesday as rescuers raced to save survivors trapped under debris in the winter cold, Agence France-Presse reported.

Officials and medics said 8,574 people had died in Turkey and 2,662 in Syria from Monday’s 7.8-magnitude tremor, bringing the total to 11,236.

Nearly 50,000 people were also injured in Turkey and another 5,000 in Syria, officials and rescuers on both sides said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave an update on the casualty figures during a visit to Kahramanmaraş, a southern Turkish city at the epicenter of the initial quake.

Television images showed him hugging a weeping, elderly woman and walking through a large crowd towards a Red Crescent humanitarian relief tent.

Facing a tough May 14 re-election, Erdoğan pledged to rebuild the damaged regions within a year.

He also appeared to push back against criticism that the government’s response to Turkey’s worst disaster in decades has been slow.

“Initially there were issues at airports and on the roads, but today things are getting easier and tomorrow it will be easier still,” he said in televised remarks.

“We have mobilized all our resources,” he added. “The state is doing its job.

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