BEIRUT — The official number of Lebanese citizens that died in Turkey during last week's earthquake has reached 16, the spokesperson for the caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib confirmed to L'Orient Today.
Elias Haddad, a Lebanese man who had been missing since the deadly Feb. 6 earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, was found dead by a Lebanese Civil Defense team, Lebanon's ambassador to Turkey Ghassan Moallem told L'Orient Today Wednesday morning.
Haddad was among the three other Lebanese citizens who had been trapped beneath the collapsed Ozcan Hotel in Antakya, in Turkey's southern Hatay province. One of the three, Bassel Habkouk, was rescued alive, while another, Mohammad al-Mohammad, remains missing.
On Wednesday morning, Moallem said the official death toll of Lebanese in Turkey was 10, with five others missing. By Wednesday evening, Lebanon's Foreign Ministry told L'Orient Today that number stood at 16. It is unclear how many remain missing.
In neighboring Syria, where the quake killed more than 3,000 people, several sources confirmed to L'Orient Today that at least three Lebanese were killed: A Lebanese-Syrian mother and her Lebanese daughter, buried in Syria, and a Lebanese priest in Aleppo whose body was repatriated to Lebanon.
On Monday, a Lebanese girl was found alive in Turkey almost a week after the disaster. A Lebanese man and his son were also found alive last Tuesday under the rubble of their house in Antakya.
Several rescue teams were sent from Lebanon to Syria and Turkey hours after the disaster had struck. The earthquake was also felt in Lebanon and caused fears among residents, leading to traffic on some roads as people tried to avoid their apartment buildings. Several construction projects were also damaged. However, no casualties or injuries were reported in Lebanon.
The disaster, with a combined death toll in Turkey and neighboring Syria exceeding 41,000 according to the latest toll, has ravaged cities in both countries, leaving many survivors homeless in near-freezing winter temperatures.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has acknowledged problems in the initial response to the 7.8 magnitude quake that struck early on Feb. 6 but has maintained that the situation is under control.