Severe weather hampers earthquake rescuers in Turkey and Syria

Snow, rain and freezing conditions impede search and rescue operations as the quake death toll neared 1,400.

Severe weather hampers earthquake rescuers in Turkey and Syria
Earthquake rescuers in Turkey and Syria

Bad weather is hampering rescue efforts after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck southern Turkey and northwest Syria, killing about 1,400 people and injuring many more.

According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake struck at 4:17am (01:17 GMT) on Monday at a depth of about 17.9km (11 miles), leading to the collapse and destruction of buildings across the region. It was also felt in Cyprus and Lebanon.

At least 912 deaths were reported in Turkey, while at least 473 people have died in Syria so far.

In addition to the devastation from the earthquake, Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said authorities were also struggling with “extremely severe weather conditions”.

“We are trying to reach the region as quickly as possible,” Oktay told the media.

Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu, reporting from Istanbul, said harsh winter conditions made the situation on the ground “very difficult”.

“Everywhere there is snow or rain, and it’s very cold … the weather conditions and the climate is making it very difficult for the rescue workers and civilians,” she said. “It seems to be the biggest challenge for everyone.”