Sunday, April 21, 2024

Turkey-Syria earthquake live updates: Death toll passes 25,000

Search operation continues for the possible survivors in quake-hit southeast Turkey and northern Syria.

Death toll from earthquakes in Turkey and Syria surpasses 25,000

The death toll following deadly earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 25,000.

In Turkey, the number of people killed has risen to 21,848, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Speaking in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa on Saturday, Erdogan added that 80,104 people had been injured.

In Syria, the total number of deaths stands at 3,553, including 2,166 in rebel-held areas in the northwest, according to the White Helmets civil defense group. There have been 1,387 deaths in government-controlled parts of Syria, according to Syrian state media.

The total number of injured people in Syria across all affected territories stands at 5,273, with 2,326 in government-controlled areas and 2,950 in the rebel-held areas.

Eight people arrested In Turkey due to defects in collapsed quake-hit buildings

Eight people were arrested in the Turkish province of Sanliurfa in connection with construction defects found in buildings that collapsed as a result of the recent earthquake, Turkish broadcaster Haberturk reported on Saturday.

On Monday, parts of Turkey and Syria were hit by a series of devastating earthquakes and aftershocks that killed more than 24,000 people and knocked down thousands of homes.

The suspects were allegedly involved in actions related to cutting columns in some of the collapsed buildings, the report added.

Death toll in Turkey and Syria could ‘double’: UN aid chief

The death toll in Turkey and Syria could “double”, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths says.

Speaking to Sky’s Kay Burley, the UN emergency relief co-ordinator, stated, “On the one hand it’s deeply deeply shocking”, adding, “The idea that these mountains of rubble still hold people, some of them still alive, many of them dead.”

“We haven’t yet begun to really count the ultimate number of the people who have died,” he stated, adding, “On the other hand also there is an extraordinary response to this, the most disastrous earthquake in 100 years.”

He goes on to say that “there are these rules of thumb”  for how long you can keep looking after a disaster on this scale and while they say 72 hours he had just heard rescuers had pulled out someone alive from the rubble.

Asked how he would describe the scene, he continues “it is a scene of extraordinary contorted what looks like waste but which is in fact a building that housed families”.

However, he goes on to say the death toll could “double”.

“There are many sort of rumours out there about where it may end up. And of course, Syria has its count, too. I think it’s really difficult to to estimate very precisely because you need to get under the rubble, but I’m sure it’ll double or more,” he said, adding, “And that’s terrifying.”

Griffiths noted the UN will carry out separate appeals for Turkey and Syria in the coming weeks.

Erdogan vows concrete steps to rebuild within weeks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to take concrete steps to begin rebuilding cities in the hard-hit southeast region within weeks, saying hundreds of thousands of buildings were uninhabitable across southern Turkey.

Erdogan made the statement as he announced the latest death toll in the country, which had risen to 21,043.

The president also condemned those who have looted or committed other crimes in earthquake areas, saying they would be punished by the state.

“We’ve declared a state of emergency,” he stated during a visit to the disaster zone.

“It means that, from now on, the people who are involved in looting or kidnapping should know that the state’s firm hand is on their backs,” Erdogan added.

WHO chief arrives in Syria

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has arrived in Syria’s quake-stricken city of Aleppo, state media reported.

Tedros “arrived at Aleppo airport to tour some hospitals and shelters with (Syria’s) health minister and the governor of Aleppo”, the official news agency SANA reported.

Aleppo, in the north-west of the country, is controlled by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey death toll rises to 20,937

The death toll in Turkey from a powerful earthquakes has risen to 20,937, the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AfadFAD) said on Saturday.

Recent reports added more than 3,500 have died in Syria.

The growing death toll is now in excess of 24,437 across southern Turkey and northwest Syria.

Up to 5.3 million people have been left homeless in Syria alone, the UN warned.

“We’re approaching the end of search and rescue window”: UN liaison officer

It’s been five days since a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, and teams are approaching the end of the search and rescue window, a UN liaison officer has warned.

Speaking from Adana, southern Turkey, on Saturday, Belit Tasdemir, UN liaison officer at AKUT Search and Rescue Association, told CNN: “The sheer level of, and how widespread the devastation is, is completely unprecedented in terms of what we’ve seen before in Turkey.”

Describing the recue efforts as “mammoth,” Tasdemir said the teams are working across a vast area and in “below freezing” temperatures.

“We’re approaching the end of the search and rescue window, and plus the probability of finding survivors under the rubble in below freezing temperatures is becoming a lower probability,” he continued.

He added that rescue teams, who have been on the ground for several days, are starting to become affected by the cold temperatures and “extreme fatigue.”

Earthquake ‘worst event in 100 years in this region’: UN aid chief

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths described on Saturday the devastating earthquake that hit southern Turkey and northwestern Syria as the “worst event in 100 years in this region”.

Speaking during a news briefing in the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras, Griffiths also described Turkey’s response to the disaster as “extraordinary”.

He also told Reuters he hoped in Syria aid would go to both government and opposition-held areas, but that things with this regard were “not clear yet”.

Over 2,000 aftershocks occurred in Turkey: Report

More than 2,000 aftershocks have occurred and continue to occur in southeastern Turkiye following a devastating earthquake that killed more than 20,000 people, said Orhan Tatar, an official at Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD).

The vast majority of aftershocks were above magnitude 4, Tatar added.

Nearly 100 countries offering assistance to Turkey

Ninety-nine countries have offered assistance to the country to help with quake relief efforts, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced.

On the ground, search and rescue teams from 68 nations were present with 8,326 foreign personnel, the ministry tweeted.

UN: Negotiations continuing to gain access to more areas in Syria

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that negotiations are continuing to gain access to more areas in Syria.

He said, “Our message is clear, it’s time to put all politics aside. Just focus on the men, women and childen who desperately need help in Syria and in southern Turkey.”

“Wherever we work we have to work with the authorities in charge. That’s just the way that UN humanitarian aid is structured. So in the rebel-held terrirories we work with the authorities there, in the government-held areas we work with the government,” he continued.

Responding to criticism of the UN’s response to the urgent need in Syria following the earthquake, he added, “I think if I was standing in the middle of devastation in my community… I would be unhappy and I would be critical because aid never comes quickly enough. But I can tell you that the UN stands with the people of Syria, whether they live in rebel territories, whether they live in government-held territories.”

‘We can smell dead bodies’: AJ Correspondent

Al Jazeera’s Resul Serdar reporting from the city of Kahramanmaras said rescue teams were relentlessly working to find survivors but it would be a “miracle” to find anyone alive.

“We can feel the smell of the dead bodies all around,” he noted, adding, “We have seen several bodies being taken out and many people are still missing.

“The rescuers here, they know that they are now running out of time,” Serdar continued.

‘My eyes were full of tears’

Adem Altan can’t compare the picture he took on a cold morning this week with any of the tens of thousands he has shot in his 41 years as a photojournalist.

Shortly after driving from Ankara to the southern Turkish town of Kahramanmaraş on Tuesday, and picking his way through the aftermath of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake, he came across a collapsed apartment complex.

Families were digging through the rubble in search of their buried loved ones, but it was a man in an orange coat who sat quietly amid the debris who caught Altan’s eye.

“When I looked closer, I saw that he was holding a hand,” stated the photographer, “so I began to take photographs.”

The man was called Mesut Hançer and the hand he was holding was that of his 15-year-old daughter, Irmak, who had been killed in her bed when the quake brought the building down. Hançer spotted Altan. And then he asked him to carry on.

Father Holds Hand of Daughter Dead Under Rubble in Turkey Earthquake

Death toll crosses 24,000

The number of people killed following Monday’s devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has reached at least 24,178, according to authorities.

In Turkey, the death toll has risen to at least 20,665, according to the country’s disaster and emergency management presidency SAKOM.

In Syria, the total number or dead stands at 3,513, including 2,166 in rebel-held areas in the northwest of the country, according to the ‘White Helmets’ civil defense – and 1,347 deaths in government-controlled parts of Syria, according to Syrian state media.

UN food agency appeals for help to get quake victims hot meals

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is appealing for $77m to provide food rations and hot meals to a total of 874,000 people affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Those in dire need of hot food in the region’s bitterly cold winter conditions include 284,000 newly displaced people in Syria and 590,000 people in Turkey, including 45,000 refugees and 545,000 internally displaced people.

“For the thousands of people affected by the earthquakes, food is one of the top needs right now and our priority is to get it to the people who need it fast,” WFP Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Corinne Fleischer announced in a statement.

UN spokesperson defends quake rescue response

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said about 130 urban search-and-rescue teams from around the world are working in Turkey and another 57 teams are on their way.

In response to Syrian critics who have accused the UN of not doing enough to help find victims, the spokesperson said the UN does not have its own search-and-rescue teams. Instead, the agency has a coordinating role through its disaster assessment teams.

A UN disaster-assessment team is in Syria and deploying to government-controlled Aleppo, Homs and Latakia, Dujarric said. A second UN aid convoy entered Syria’s rebel-held enclave on Friday from Turkey, bringing shelter and non-food items, he added.

The UN World Food Program delivered food aid to 115,000 people in Turkey and Syria in the first four days since the earthquake struck, while the World Health Organization has delivered 72 metric tonnes of trauma and emergency surgery supplies to both countries, he stated.

Death toll climbs to 23,831

The number of people killed following Monday’s devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has reached at least 23,831, according to authorities.

In Turkey, the death toll rose to 20,318 with 80,052 reported injured the country’s disaster agency announced.

In Syria, the total number or dead stands at 3,513, including 2,166 in rebel-held areas in the northwest of the country, according to the ‘White Helmets’ civil defense – and 1,347 deaths in government-controlled parts of Syria, according to Syrian state media.

Search for survivors is over in rebel-held areas of Syria: White Helmets

The volunteer organization Syria Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, announced the end of its search and rescue operations for survivors in rebel-controlled areas in the north and northwest following the earthquakes that hit the country and Turkey on Monday.

The group said it believes no one trapped under the rubble is still alive after 108 hours of searching.

However, it is now searching for the bodies of those under collapsed buildings.

“Since the beginning of the earthquake on Monday at 4:17 a.m. local time until the announcement of the end of the search and rescue operations, 2,166 deaths were registered and more than 2,950 injured in all the areas hit by the earthquake in north and northwestern Syria,” the White Helmets announced in a statement released Friday.

“Our teams have conducted 108 hours of work in more than 40 cities, towns and villages in northwestern Syria, in which about 479 residential buildings were completely destroyed, and more than 1,481 buildings were partially destroyed,” the statement added.

According to the statement, many women and children were among the dead people in the most affected areas, including in the towns of Jindires and Haram in north Syria.

“A crisis within a crisis”: UN warns millions of Syrians could be left homeless following earthquake

More than 5 million people in Syria may have been left homeless following the earthquake that struck the country and Turkey on Monday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Friday.

“UNHCR is focusing very much on shelter and relief items, ensuring that collective centers that displaced have gone to have adequate facilities, as well as tents, plastic sheeting, thermal blankets, sleeping mats, winter clothing and so on,” stated Sivanka Dhanapala, a UNHCR representative in Syria.

“For Syria, this is a crisis within a crisis,” Dhanapala continued, adding, “We’ve had economic shocks, Covid, and are now in the depths of winter, with blizzards raging in the affected areas.”

The United Nations agency said 6.8 million people were already displaced internally within the country since the start of the war that ripped through Syria in 2011.

“All this, of course, impacts the access for aid,” Dhanapala stated, adding, “Roads have been damaged and that hampers us trying to reach people. It’s been very, very difficult.”

Based on “a preliminary estimate,” the refugee organization announced “5.37 million people affected by the quake will need shelter assistance in the whole of Syria.”

“That is a huge number and comes to a population already suffering mass displacement,” according to Dhanapala.

Syrian President criticizes western countries in first televised comments since earthquake

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad criticized Western countries in his first televised comments since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck parts of the country, Syrian state media showed.

Assad and his wife, Asma, visited different sites affected by the earthquake and visited survivors at a hospital in Aleppo.

Standing near a building destroyed by the earthquake, Assad told reporters that Western countries “have no regard for the human condition.”

This comment is in line with statements heard from government officials and Syria’s state-run media, who have pinned the lack of humanitarian aid and hindered rescue equipment on US and EU sanctions.

The US says its sanctions are not imposed on humanitarian efforts, and on Friday, the US Treasury issued a “General License” for 180 days, which authorizes all earthquake relief-related transactions otherwise prohibited by sanctions regulations.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry called this a measure a means to give a “false impressions of humanity,” SANA reported.

Almost 11 million people have been affected by the disaster in Syria, the UN announced.

The death toll in Syria stands at least 3,384, including 2,037 in rebel-held areas in the northwest, according to the “White Helmets” civil defense group – and 1,347 deaths in government-controlled parts of Syria, according to Syrian state media. More than 5,000 people have been injured across all affected territories, according to authorities.

Red Cross calls for urgent access in northern Syria to offer “impartial humanitarian assistance”

Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross called for more access to all parts of northern Syria following the deadly earthquake.

“What is most important now is that we gain access to all parts of northern Syria to help people who need our urgent support,” Spoljaric said in a statement Friday, adding, “Impartial humanitarian assistance should never be hindered, nor politicized.”

The delivery of urgent supplies to quake-hit rebel-held areas in northern and northwestern Syria has been complicated by a long-running war between militant groups and the Syrian government.

White House says it’s ramping up earthquake relief assistance to Turkey and Syria

The United States is “ramping up” assistance to Turkey and Syria following the catastrophic earthquake that struck on Monday, the White House told reporters Friday.

John Kirby, the White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has already deployed a disaster assistance and response team to Turkey.

Two additional urban search and rescue teams are also “conducting operations in support of Turkish rescue efforts” in the hardest-hit areas of Turkey, for a sum-total of 200 personnel, assisted with specialized equipment and canine support dogs, according to Kirby. He added the US is deploying assistance teams via Blackhawk helicopters from Incirlik Air Force Base in Southern Turkey.

On Thursday, USAID announced $85 million in funding for the region to provide “emergency food and shelter for refugees and newly displaced people, winter supplies to help families brave the cold, critical health care services to provide trauma support, safe drinking water to prevent disease, and hygiene and sanitation assistance to keep people safe and healthy.”

In Syria, Kirby stated, humanitarian partners are “urgently scaling up response efforts,” including the launch of charter flights carrying medical supplies, the distribution of hot meals and the deployment of 20 truckloads of medicine and food into the country, as a way to “underscore that US sanctions will not prevent or inhibit prohibiting humanitarian assistance in Syria.”

He pointed to a license from the US Treasury that provides additional authorizations for humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people.

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