MANILA — Dozens of nations, including the Philippines, have extended support to Turkey after 2 successive powerful earthquakes struck on Monday, according to Turkish Ambassador to the Philippines Niyazi Akyol.
Monday's tremors were the strongest Turkey has seen in decades, flattening thousands of buildings and trapping an unknown number of people.
"Right now, 66 countries actually extended their assistance to us with over 3,000 aid personnel from those countries. Their search and rescue, and medical aid personnel, including the Philippines, are now in the region," Akyol told ANC's "Headstart".
"We are very grateful for the assistance of the international community and of course we are very grateful to the Philippines for the generous assistance at this difficult time of need extended to us," he added.
The death toll from the devastating earthquake in Turkey and neighboring Syria surpassed 15,000 on Thursday.
The figure is expected to rise as rescue efforts continue.
Some of the heaviest devastation occurred near the quake's epicenter between Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, where entire city blocks lay in ruins.
Akyol said relief operations were hampered by the freezing weather as temperatures plunged to minus 5 degrees Celsius.
Roads heavily damaged by the tremors are also impassable, he added.
The Turkey-Syria border is one of the world's most active earthquake zones.
The quakes were Turkey's worst seismic event in decades since 1939, when 33,000 people died in the eastern Erzincan province.
In 1999, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake killed more than 17,000.
Experts have long warned that a large quake could devastate Istanbul, a megalopolis of 16 million people filled with rickety homes.
— With reports from Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse