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natural disasters

Powerful quake leaves at least 3,800 dead in Turkey and Syria

The death toll from a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey on Monday morning continues to grow, with officials in Turkey and Syria saying at least 3,800 people were killed between the two countries.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Monday night that at least 2,379 people were killed in the country and 13,293 injured, with 5,600 buildings destroyed. In Syria, 1,450 people were killed and thousands injured, the state health ministry and White Helmets relief group said. There have been hundreds of aftershocks, including one with a 7.5 magnitude.

The quake was centered near Gaziantep in south central Turkey, and could be felt in Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, and Cyprus. Thousands of buildings have toppled in Turkey and Syria, and freezing temperatures, snow, damaged roads, and power outages are slowing down rescue efforts. Several international rescue teams are on their way to help or have already made it to the region, coming from Switzerland, Hungary, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

"This is a race against time and hypothermia," Mikdat Kadioglu, a professor of meteorology and disaster management at the Istanbul Technical University, told The New York Times. "People got caught in sleepwear and have been under the rubble for 17 hours."

The Syrian civil war has displaced more than 6.8 million people, and 3.6 million refugees are in Turkey, with many living in areas near the earthquake epicenter. The United Nations said it is having a hard time getting humanitarian help to the refugees it helps in northwestern Syria, and the organization is "looking to mobilize emergency funds in the region," Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary general, said. "The earthquake is expected to disrupt aid operations in northwestern Syria, given the impact on roads, the supply chains, and logistical facilities."

Some Syrians initially thought the ground was shaking on Monday morning because of a battle, not an earthquake. Osama Salloum, a doctor in Idlib, told the Times people "kept looking up to the sky for jets. My mind was playing tricks on me, telling me it was war again."