Death toll from earthquake in Turkey, Syria passes 20,000

The death toll from the earthquake that shook Turkey and Syra early Monday morning continues to climb.

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Update 11:22 a.m. EST Feb. 9: The combined death toll across Syria and Turkey climbed over 20,000 on Thursday, as rescuers in both countries race to find survivors, The Washington Post reported.

Original Story: The death toll from a catastrophic earthquake that rattled Turkey and Syria continued to climb, hitting more than 19,300 on Thursday.

Three days after the earthquake, survivors huddle around campfires and are struggling to survive bitter-cold temperatures, The Associated Press reported.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Turkey and Syria on Monday. Rescuers continued to pull survivors from the rubble on Thursday, but officials warned the window to find trapped survivors is closing, according to the AP.

The World Health Organization has warned the number of fatalities could continue to rise, as survivors struggle to find shelter, water, fuel and electricity, the BBC reported.

Aid trucks sent by the United National have entered rebel-held northwest Syria for the first time since the earthquake. Getting aid to the area has been made difficult because the U.N. is only authorized to deliver through one border crossing, which had suffered road damage, according to the AP.

The earthquake’s epicenter was 14.2 miles east of Nurdagi, in Turkey’s Gazientep province, and was the strongest in the country in more than 80 years, CNN reported.

Rescue crews continue to work in both Syria and Turkey to find victims. Turkey’s disaster management agency told the AP that more than 110,000 rescue personnel are part of the effort, including more than 5,500 tractors, cranes, bulldozers, excavators and other vehicles.

With 19,300 deaths, the disaster now matches the death toll from the deadly earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 in northeastern Japan. That quake caused an accident at a nuclear reactor in Fukushima.

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