The plight of hundreds of thousands of people left homeless by earthquakes in Turkey and Syria grew more desperate on Thursday, while hopes faded of many more people being found alive amid the ruins of cities.

The death toll from Monday’s quakes, which struck in the early morning, passed 17,000 on Thursday across both countries.

It was the biggest natural disaster to strike the region since 1999, when a similarly powerful quake killed more than 17,000 people in Turkey.

A Turkish official said the disaster posed “very serious difficulties” for the holding of an election scheduled for May 14 in which President Tayyip Erdogan has been expected face the toughest challenge in his two decades in power.

With anger simmering over the slow delivery of aid and delays in getting the rescue effort underway, the disaster is bound to play into the vote should it still go ahead.

Taiwan National Day Celebration


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