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Turkey-Syria earthquake: Combined death toll tops 11,500

The World Health Organisation has suggested the final toll could rise as high as 20,000, and thousands are complaining about the lack of resources and slow official response.

Across a swathe of southern Turkey, people sought temporary shelter and food in freezing winter weather, and waited in anguish by piles of rubble where family and friends might still lie buried.

Rescuers were still digging out some people alive, and finding others dead. But many Turks have complained of a lack of equipment, expertise and support to rescue those trapped - sometimes even as they could hear cries for help.

"Where is the state? Where have they been for two days? We are begging them. Let us do it, we can get them out," Sabiha Alinak said near a snow-covered collapsed building where her young relatives were trapped in the city of Malatya.

Criticism from opposition figures and on the ground is growing. Some claim that emergency efforts have been too slow and that not enough was done to prepare the earthquake-prone region during his eight years in office.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has visited the disaster zone and while in Hatay, one of the region's hardest hit by the quake, Erdogan responded saying: "It is not possible to be prepared for a disaster this big."

He described people saying they had not seen security forces at all in some areas as "provocateurs".

"This is a time for unity, solidarity. In a period like this, I cannot stomach people conducting negative campaigns for political interest," he added.

During another stop on his tour of areas in the disaster zone, he acknowledged some initial problems but said the situation was now "under control".

There were similar scenes and complaints in neighbouring Syria, whose north was also hard hit by Monday's huge quake.

Syria's ambassador to the United Nations admitted the government had a "lack of capabilities and lack of equipment" but blamed this on over a decade of civil war in his country and Western sanctions.

Rescuers are still digging out some people alive, here a man being pulled from the wreckage in Hatay, one of the epicentres of the quake. Photo: NurPhoto via AFP