The port of Iskenderun on the Mediterranean coast remained closed following heavy damage from Monday’s earthquake and a subsequent fire that broke out among containers at the terminal.
8:21 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023
Dramatic photos show the moment an 8-year-old survivor was rescued and reunited with his mother
From CNN's Sarah Tilotta
A series of dramatic photos show 8-year-old Yigit Cakmak being pulled from the rubble by emergency workers in Hatay, Turkey, 52 hours after the initial earthquake struck the region.
Getty photographer Burak Kara captured the photos of Cakmak as he was freed from the collapsed building.
The boy was passed over debris from rescuer to rescuer until he was finally in the arms of his mother who was waiting at the site.
9:35 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023
Syrian regime asks US and EU to lift sanctions
From CNN’s Mostafa Salem and Celine Alkhaldi
Syria’s government has ramped up its calls for the removal of economic US and EU sanctions in the aftermath of Monday's earthquake.
Relief groups working from government-controlled areas in Syria have pinned the lack of heavy machinery and medical equipment needed to remove rubble and treat the injured on the Western sanctions.
The measures were imposed on Syria to pressure the regime into a political process that could put an end to the ongoing civil conflict.
Some context: Most of the Syrian quake casualties have been reported in the northwest of the country, predominantly in the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus, according to the state news agency, SANA.
This region was already struggling to rebuild vital infrastructure heavily damaged by continual aerial bombardment during the country’s civil war, which the UN estimates to have claimed 300,000 lives since 2011.
Half of northwestern Syria’s 4.6 million population have been forced out of their homes by the conflict, with 1.7 million now living in tents and refugee camps in the region, according to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.
On Wednesday, the Syrian government’s foreign minister, Faisal Mekdad, called on Europe to send aid, saying that sanctions should not be used “as an excuse.”
“Sending aid from Europe does not need to undergo a bureaucratic process. International law states that humanitarian aid is not be not subject to sanctions, so this is no excuse,” Mekdad told Lebanese outlet Al Mayadeen.
When asked whether the regime will allow aid into rebel-controlled territories, the Syrian government said that international aid will be distributed only by the Syrian government.
“The Syrian state is ready to allow aid to enter into all regions, provided that it does not reach terrorist armed groups," Mekdad said.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that: “in Syria, we have a partner in the form of NGOs on the ground who are providing humanitarian support.”
“These partners, who unlike the Syrian regime, are there to help the people rather than brutalize them,” Price added.
CNN's Rhea Mogul, Isil Sariyuce, Gul Tuysuz and Jack Guy contributed reporting.
8:01 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023
Aid is on the way but freezing weather conditions hamper the search for survivors
From CNN staff
International leaders have pledged to send help to Turkey and Syria after a deadly earthquake ripped through the region Monday, leaving thousands of casualties and collapsed buildings in its wake.
Aid workers are struggling to access victims of the powerful quake in northwestern Syria amid conflict and political crisis in the country.
Here are Wednesday's latest developments:
China will send 30 million yuan ($4.4 million) of emergency humanitarian aid to Syria, including $2 million of aid and other urgently needed relief supplies, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said Wednesday.
The United Arab Emirates, India, Egypt, Algeria, Armenia, Iran, Libya, Iraq and Jordan were among the nations to send planes carrying aid to assist the Syrian government with rescue operations, the Syrian government said.
The UAE had also pledged $100 million to Syria and Turkey Tuesday, and two aid flights landed in Damascus carrying 12 tons of aid and tents, state-run WAM said.
Algeria flights also landed in Aleppo with rescue personnel to help with aid operations, Syrian state TV said.
7:51 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023
Turkey has set up scores of field hospitals across 10 provinces
From CNN's Hande Atay Alam
The Turkish government has established 77 field hospitals in 10 provinces that were hit by the earthquake Monday, as freezing weather conditions hamper rescue efforts across Turkey and Syria.
"We can also perform surgical operations in some of these hospitals where emergency health services are provided," Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted Wednesday.
"Our earthquake victims with risky health conditions are transferred to the hospitals in the region by helicopters after the first response," he added.
"It’s a horrible situation but it also gives hope": An Istanbul aid center is sending basics to the disaster zone
From CNN’s Joseph Ataman
Organized chaos is the order of the day at this Istanbul aid collection and distribution center.
A CNN team saw volunteers darting in and out of the alleys of boxes and household goods in the Topbaş Performance and Art Center in the Yenikapi district of Turkey's biggest city, where wheelbarrows were stacked high with nappies and cakes.
Everything from toilet paper to excavators have been channeled through the center after it transformed into a donations hub two days ago, hours after the earthquake rocked southern Turkey and northwest Syria on Monday. Contributions have poured in from major firms and individuals alike, with a focus on the essentials of survival: food, water and clothing.
The disaster zone is at the other end of Turkey from Istanbul, but the urgency at the center here is palpable.
Snow is beginning to settle on the car park outside, where 53 cargo trucks have departed for the southern Hatay province since Monday. Regular arrivals of families bring in portable heaters, carpets and even baby strollers, the everyday essentials of life ripped away from their compatriots by the earthquake.
The neon jackets of the council workers glint among the masses of some 2,000 volunteers crowding the tables, where volunteers process donations from across the city.
“It’s a horrible situation but it also gives hope,” Esra Huri Bulduk, a city council aid coordinator, told CNN.
“The volunteers are working so hard,” she said of the locals staffing the center, which is running 24/7.
"We have seen mothers bringing baby food they bought for their child, to donate," Bulduk added.
Families told us, 'how can they only feed their own child whilst other children are not fed?' (The) people of Istanbul are ready to show solidarity and help one another."
Smaller trucks ferry goods in and out of the three cavernous hangers that make up the exhibition center; some 5,000 sets of clothes for men, women and children have been shipped out, alongside nearly 3,000 hygiene kits and 10,000 food packets.
Three excavators, 90 generators and 26 pieces of construction machinery have also been shipped out for the 12-hour drive to the disaster zone.
7:15 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023
Turkey aims to rebuild Kahramanmaras "in one year," Erdogan says
From CNN’s Isil Sariyuce and Hande Atay Alam
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government's target is to rebuild the southern region of Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of Monday's deadly earthquake, "in one year."
"We can never let our citizens stay on the streets," Erdogan said Wednesday while speaking from an emergency relief area set up by the country's disaster management agency.
"Our state is using all its resources with AFAD (Turkey's disaster management agency) and municipalities. We will continue to do so."
The president said the government is planning to give 10,000 Turkish liras (around $531 USD) to help families impacted by the quake, and has organized hotels for citizens to stay in, if they want to.
Erdogan also acknowledged the government "had some problems" clearing blocked roads and providing natural gas to cities and aid workers, which prevented rescuers from reaching collapsed buildings in order to retrieve survivors.
However, he said the situation is now "under control." "We are in better place today, will be even better tomorrow," Erdogan added.
A cold weather blast across Turkey and Syria has complicated the search for survivors, as freezing temperatures are increasing the risk of hypothermia for those stuck underneath the rubble.
6:12 a.m. ET, February 8, 2023
Erdogan visits emergency relief site near quake epicenter
From CNN's Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived at an emergency relief area in the southern city of Kahramanmaras near the epicenter of Monday's powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
Tents have been set up at the site by the country's disaster management agency, AFAD,
Erdogan landed in the region earlier Wednesday ahead of his trip to areas heavily impacted by the disaster, as rescue teams search for survivors amid freezing weather conditions.
The Turkish leader is expected to then visit the town of Pazarcık -- which suffered major damage following the quake -- state-run news agency Anadolu said. Erdogan is scheduled to visit the province of Hatay later.
Survivors getting "desperate" as freezing weather and political crisis set back Syria aid efforts
From CNN's Sana Noor Haq
A combination of freezing weather and destroyed infrastructure is hampering rescue efforts in northwestern Syria, as aid workers struggle to access victims of the powerful earthquake amid conflict and political crisis there, a top charity official has told CNN.
"It is a difficult area for humanitarians, but over the years ... we've learned to steer away on political issues and focus on humanitarian assistance," Johan Mooij, the Syria Response director for World Vision, told CNN's Bianca Nobilo.
World Vision has staff stationed inside Syria to ease access to disaster-stricken regions, Mooij said.
Rescuers from the charity are working to provide shelter to survivors who have lost their homes. The loss of electricity lines, water and sewer systems have compounded the affects of the earthquake, Mooij added.
The region was already struggling to restore key infrastructure heavily damaged by continual aerial bombardment during the country's civil war, which the United Nations estimates to have claimed 300,000 lives since 2011.
The cold weather conditions in Turkey and Syria are also hampering aid efforts on both sides of the border, putting the lives of those trapped underneath the rubble, who have already gone days without food and water, at risk of hypothermia.
It's very cold and rainy and it snows now and then. It is a terrible situation indeed," Mooij added.
"This area was affected by so many disasters already in the last couple of years. And we talk about the war, we talk about displacement, Covid. There's been quite a bit cholera. And now, this.
"People feel they are getting pretty desperate, and see no way out."