A grim milestone was reached on Sunday as the death toll from devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria topped more than 30,000, The Associated Press reported.
Rescuers continued to look for survivors among the rubble of the quake, a 7.8-magnitude temblor that struck on Feb. 6. The earthquake destroyed hundreds of buildings, with BBC News reporting that structures "as large as 12 stories high are now flattened" with "huge mountains of rubble as far as the eye can see."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has referred to the earthquake as the "disaster of the century," and Turkish officials said that a 310-mile diameter region was affected by the shake, an area home to more than 13.5 million people in Turkey and more in Syria.
A massive rescue operation was launched, but hope is fading as the days continue to pass. With the World Health Organization's original estimate of 20,000 deaths now far exceeded, it is unclear exactly how many more fatalities will occur.
Despite the devastation, though, there have been remarkable stories of survival against all odds.
AP reported that a number of "dramatic rescues were being broadcast on Turkish television." This includes the rescue of a family of three, including a 12-year-old girl, pulled from the rubble alive in the city of Kahramanmaras.
However, backlash has grown over the perceived slow rescue efforts, with many accusing placing the blame on Erdogan's administration. Turkish officials said Sunday they had begun arresting suspects in connection with faulty construction that allowed buildings to crumble. AP noted that while Turkey does have national construction codes for earthquakes, "they are rarely enforced, explaining why thousands of buildings toppled over or pancaked down onto the people inside."
Feb. 12, 2023: This article has been updated with additional information.