President of Turkey arrived in the disaster zone as those trapped under the rubble faced a third night in freezing temperatures.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew into Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of quakes, before heading to Hatay, a province between the Mediterranean Sea and the Syrian border that has seen the highest number of deaths.
Speaking from Hatay, he announced the latest casualty figures: 9,057 dead and 52,979 injured. More than a 3rd of the fatalities occurred in Hatay, even though it lies more than 100 km from the epicenter of the first and most powerful tremor.
“Undoubtedly, our job was not easy. The difficulty of weather conditions added to the extent of this earthquake, which was effective in an area of 500 kilometers where approximately 13.5 million people live. Of course, there are shortcomings. It is impossible to be prepared for such a disaster”, - he said.
Erdogan earlier visited a tent city set up in Kahramanmaras and said tourist hotels in Antalya, Alanya and Mersin would be opened to house survivors, many of whom had spent 2 nights sleeping outside, in cars or under makeshift shelters. He also offered 10,000 liras in support to affected families and pledged to start rebuilding housing for those left homeless within a year.