ANTAKYA,Turkey, February 10;

Thousands who lost their homes in a catastrophic earthquake huddled around campfires and clamored for food and water in the bitter cold, three days after the temblor and a series of aftershocks hit Turkey and Syria, killing more than 19,300.

Emergency crews used pick axes, shovels and jackhammers to dig through twisted metal and concrete โ€” and occasionally still pulled survivors out. But in some places, they switched the focus to demolishing unsteady buildings.

While stories of miraculous rescues briefly buoyed spirits, the grim reality of the hardship facing tens of thousands who survived the disaster cast a pall. The number of deaths has surpassed the toll in a 2011 earthquake off Japan that triggered a tsunami, killing more than 18,400 people.

In northwest Syria, the first U.N. aid trucks to enter the rebel-controlled area from Turkey since the quake arrived โ€” underscoring the difficulty of getting help to people in the country riven by civil war. In the Turkish city of Antakya, meanwhile, dozens of people scrambled for aid in front of a truck distributing childrenโ€™s coats and other supplies.

One survivor, Ahmet Tokgoz, called for the government to evacuate people from the devastated region. While many of the tens of thousands who have lost their homes have found shelter in tents, stadiums and other temporary accommodation, others have spent the nights outdoors.

โ€œEspecially in this cold, it is not possible to live here,โ€ he said. โ€œIf people havenโ€™t died from being stuck under the rubble, theyโ€™ll die from the cold.โ€

Authorities called off search-and-rescue operations on Thursday in the cities of Kilis and Sanliurfa, where destruction was not as severe as in other impacted regions.

Across the border in war-riven Syria, assistance trickled in. Smaller aid organizations have sent in shipments to Syriaโ€™s rebel-held northwest, but the first U.N. trucks arrived Thursday. The U.N. is only authorized to deliver aid through one border crossing and road damage has prevented that thus far.

U.N. officials said more was needed, and they pleaded for humanitarian concerns to take precedence over politics.

The scale of loss and suffering to tend to remained massive. Turkish authorities said Thursday that the death toll had risen to more than 16,100 in the country, with more than 64,000 injured. On the Syrian side, which includes in government-held and rebel-held areas, of the border, more than 3,100 have been reported dead and more than 5,000 injured.

It was not clear how many people were still unaccounted for in both countries.

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