ANKARA: The powerful earthquakes which hit southern Türkiye this week were three times stronger than the 1999 Marmara earthquake in the country's northwest, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.

“They (the earthquakes in southern Türkiye) were three times more powerful and destructive than the 1999 earthquake, which was recorded as the biggest disaster in our country’s history,“ Erdogan said in the southeastern Diyarbakir province, which he is visiting to inspect search and rescue efforts.

Erdogan said that at least 21,043 people have been killed and 80,097 others injured since the twin earthquakes, centered in Kahramanmaras province, hit southern Türkiye on Monday, reported Anadolu Agency.

“Currently, 160,000 personnel are working in 10 provinces, together with the teams from abroad,“ said Erdogan, who also met with quake victims in Diyarbakir.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes affected more than 13 million people across 10 provinces, including Hatay, Gaziantep, Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.

The Turkish leader also expressed gratitude to all “friendly” countries for showing solidarity with the Turkish nation by sending search and rescue teams after massive quakes.

Erdogan earlier pledged to rebuild the quake-hit region as part of a one-year plan.

“We plan to rebuild hundreds of thousands of houses, including their infrastructure and superstructure, and restore our cities damaged by earthquakes,“ he said.

The government, he said, has mobilised “all the means,“ and urged all to “trust and believe that we did not and will not leave our citizens on the streets in misery or poverty.”

Erdogan will later visit Sanliurfa to meet with earthquake victims. -Bernama

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