Friday, July 12, 2024

Turkey halts most rescue efforts for quake survivors as death toll tops 41k

Turkey has announced a halt to rescue operations in all but two hardest quake-hit provinces, a fortnight after the catastrophic earthquake ripped through southern parts of the country. The quake has so far killed at least 41,000 people in country.

“In many of our provinces, search and rescue efforts have been completed. They continue in Kahramanmaraş and Hatay provinces,” said Disaster Relief Agency chief Yunus Sezer during a press briefing in Ankara.

Efforts, however, will continue in the cities of Antakya and Kahmaranmaraş, which were rendered largely uninhabitable by the 7.8 magnitude quake.

At least 41,156 people were killed and 105,505 injured by the two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Turkey on Feb. 6, officials said Monday in the latest figures from the natural disaster.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes, centered in the Kahramanmaras province, affected more than 13 million people across 11 provinces, including Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, Sanliurfa, and Elazig.

More than 250,000 search and rescue personnel are currently working in the field, Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) head Yunus Sezer told a press briefing.

At least 485,682 people have been evacuated from the quake-hit regions so far, he added.

Hopes of finding more survivors are close to zero, as officials now turn to how to repair the devastation that has forced millions of people from their homes. Many have sought refuge in neighbouring towns and cities, where an international aid effort that was slow to begin with has now ramped up.

The Turkish vice-president, Fuat Oktay, noted on Saturday that about 105,000 buildings had either collapsed, needed to be demolished or were severely damaged in the quake.

Some 105,794 buildings checked by Turkey’s Ministry of Environment and Urbanization are either destroyed or so badly damaged as to require demolition, the ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

Of these, 20,662 had collapsed, the statement said. The damaged or destroyed buildings contained more than 384,500 units, mostly residential apartments,it added.

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