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Turkey-Syria earthquake: Death toll crosses 22,000, Erdogan admits response wasn't 'quick enough'

UN seeks $77 million in aid

Erdogan visits Turkey Earthquake areas Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a survivor hug each other as he visits the city centre destroyed by Monday earthquake in Kahramanmaras, southern Turkey | AP

The death toll in earthquakes that jolted Turkey and Syria crossed 22,000 on Friday. Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visiting affected areas said the initial response to the disaster wasn't as quick as desired.

Authorities in Turkey said the death toll touched 18,991 people in the country. President Erdogan said the death toll surpassed the toll from the country’s devastating 1999 earthquake. At least 3,377 people are known to have died in Syria, Al Jazeera reported.

Erdogan visited the southern city of Adiyaman on Friday and said that the government's response to the earthquakes in Turkey's south was not as quick as they wanted. “So many buildings were damaged that unfortunately, we were not able to speed up our interventions as quickly as we had desired,” Erdogan was quoted saying by Al Jazeera.

According to Syrian officials, at least 1,340 people have died in government-held areas. At least 2,037 people had died in opposition-held areas, according to the Syrian Civil Defence.

The United Nations has sought $77 million as aid for displaced people. The UN’s World Food Programme has appealed for aid to provide food rations and hot meals for 8,74,000 people affected by the deadly earthquake, the publication reported.

Some 12,000 buildings in Turkey have either collapsed or sustained serious damage, according to Turkey's minister of environment and urban planning, Murat Kurum.

Engineers suggested that the scale of the devastation is partly explained by lax enforcement of building codes, which some have warned for years would make them vulnerable to earthquakes.

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