Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Turkey-Syria earthquake live updates: Death toll tops 33,000

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

Temblors in Turkey among ‘world’s largest’ continental quakes: Seismologist

Earthquakes in Turkey earlier this week rank among the world’s largest continental quakes ever recorded, according to a Canadian seismologist.

Speaking to Anadolu, Edwin Nissen, a professor of seismology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, stated last Monday’s temblors in Turkey and Syria are among the top five or 10 continental quakes ever recorded.

“What makes it so damaging is the combination of its magnitude and its location and a densely populated part of Turkey and obviously bordering with a densely populated part of Syria,” he explained.

Saying that actually the largest earthquakes normally occur in the oceans, Nissen underlined however that these quakes were less powerful than continental earthquakes.

Amid cholera outbreak, health fears grow in quake-hit Syria

Aid groups and public health experts warn that a series of devastating earthquakes could exacerbate a cholera outbreak in Syria first detected last year.

The warnings come as rescue operations ceased in both opposition and government-held portions of Syria – and hope diminished amid remaining searches in Turkey – six days after a series of quakes hit the region.

Across war-torn Syria, where the UN has estimated that 5.3 million people have been left homeless by the disaster, “there was a perfect storm brewing before the earthquake – of increasing food insecurity, collapsing healthcare systems, the lack of access to safe water and poor sanitation”, stated Eva Hines, chief of communications for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

“More than half of people in Syria depend on unsafe alternative water sources when it comes to their water needs. And that, of course, increases vulnerability to fast-spreading waterborne diseases such as cholera,” Hines told Al Jazeera.

More than 2.1 million people in northwest Syria live in “the most at-risk subdistricts for developing a cholera outbreak”, according to OCHA.

Marc Schakal, programme director for Syria and Turkey for Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF), which operates in opposition-held areas, noted, “There were very serious difficulties and concerns about the general infrastructure of [the internally displaced camps], and now it’s even more because of the damage in terms of urban and other areas.”

He said the increased risk of cholera is among an array of compounding public health risks in areas controlled by armed opposition groups, where 37 health facilities were damaged in the quake and 20 were forced to suspend part or all of their operations. Schakal added that the disaster has also upended the treatment of chronic-disease patients and has increased mental health concerns.

Palestinian Red Crescent team arrives in Syria to provide mental health support to quake survivors

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Sunday that it was the first group to send a team to provide mental health support to earthquake victims in Syrian shelters.

“Among the tens of thousands of victims of the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, hundreds of children are languishing in hospitals and shelters without their families and homes,” read a statement issued by the group.

“Difficult times have been experienced by children since the earthquake. Some of them miraculously escaped death, but after their physical survival, psychological support teams of the Palestinian Red Crescent are working for their psychological survival,” the statement continued.

The group’s Psychosocial Support Team arranged events and activities for those in the shelters, including games for children.

The team also provided relief and stress management activities for 21 volunteers working at the association’s branch in Syria.

The team of Palestinians along with local volunteers are also providing mental health services to about 300 children and their families in shelters and hospitals, who are suffering from severe trauma and depression as a result of the earthquake.

UAE FM meets with Syrian President following deadly earthquake

The United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Sunday, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrived in the country to discuss the repercussions of the deadly earthquake, SANA reported.

Assad thanked bin Zayed for the UAE’s support, adding that it was one of the first countries to send humanitarian assistance alongside search and rescue teams.

Bin Zayed expressed his sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery to those injured, reiterating the UAE’s support.

Following the meeting with Assad, he visited areas affected by the earthquake and was briefed on efforts being made by Emirati rescue teams, SANA reported.

Earthquake death toll exceeds 33,000 across Turkey and Syria and is expected to rise

The death toll across Turkey and Syria following Monday’s catastrophic earthquake has reached 33,181, according to the latest figures.

The death toll in Turkey has climbed to 29,605, Turkish Emergency Coordination Center SAKOM announced Sunday.

In Syria, the total number of deaths stands at 3,576, including 2,168 in rebel-held areas in the northwest, according to the ‘White Helmets’ civil defense group, and 1,408 deaths in government-controlled parts of Syria, according to Syrian state media citing the health ministry on Saturday.

The White Helmets, who announced the end of their search and rescue operations on Friday, told CNN on Saturday that the total number of dead is expected to be much higher.

Charity warns of ‘second disaster’ as rescued struggle to survive

Randa Ghazy, the middle east regional media manager at Save the Children told the BBC long term there would be a “second disaster” as the rescued struggle to survive.

She said the charity has been delivering hot meals, water, blankets and mattresses, adding that many people “are still sleeping in their cars.”

Ghazy added they were also offering “psychosocial support” to children to “overcome this trauma”.

“It’s been a bit of a challenge to reach some of the rural areas in Hatay due to security challenges, but we are here to stay,” she continued, noting, “Of course, in the long term, there will be a second disaster, which is the survival of those who managed to get out of the rubble, supporting them and supporting children in accessing for example, education, with all the schools closed. And having a warm shelter. We are here to make sure that all children of course, are safe and protected and their families as well.”

Over 2,000 people discharged from hospitals in Istanbul

More than 2,000 people have been discharged from hospitals in the Turkish city of Istanbul following treatment for injuries suffered in Monday’s powerful earthquake, Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber reported on Sunday.

Thousands of injured people from the 10 earthquake-hit provinces in southern Turkey have been brought to Istanbul by military aircraft from the Turkish Armed Forces and ambulance aircraft from the Ministry of Health.

According to TRT Haber, 2,193 out of the 3,405 people brought to the city have been discharged, while treatment continues for 1,212.

Once in Istanbul, authorities have been transferring the injured to public, private and university hospitals in the city.

Young girl rescued alive from rubble after 150 hours: Turkish health minister

Among the devastation, there have been extraordinary rescue stories.

The health minister of Turkey, Dr Fahrettin Koca tweeted a short clip of a young girl that he said had been pulled from the rubble “in the 150th hour” in Hatay, Turkey.

In the tweet, he stated: “The first medical intervention for our little girl, who was rescued from the rubble in the 150th hour, was performed in our Hatay Field Hospital.”

“As a paediatrician, we oversaw the process. Our baby was sent to Adana by helicopter ambulance for treatment,” the official continued.

MSF: Few cases of survival after 72-hour window

Dr Evgenia Zelikova, a medical unit manager for Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF), told Al Jazeera that the first 48-72 hours after an earthquake is a crucial window for pulling out survivors from under the rubble.

“As time goes on there will be less cases of survival,” Zelikova said, speaking from the Jordanian capital, Amman.

“Our teams working in northwest Syria at the hospitals started to see less and less cases of survivors after 72 hours,” she added.

“Being under the cold weather for a long period of time is the biggest factor in losing blood and body temperature which will have consequences on the survival possibility,” she went on to say.

Zelikova said of primary concern health-wise is the epidemiological situation, the cold weather, the partially destroyed infrastructure, waterborne disease, access to healthcare for those with chronic diseases, and mental health.

“The Syrian population in the northwest is already at a high risk [of deteriorating mental health] because of the prolonged crisis and difficult conditions, and of course, such a traumatising event can increase their vulnerability further,” she continued.

Turkey issues 133 arrest warrants over building construction

Arrests warrants have been issued for 113 people in connection with the construction of buildings that collapsed in Monday’s earthquake, officials in Turkey have said.

Turkish police have already taken at least 12 people into custody, including building contractors.

While more arrests are likely, some critics are suggesting it is an attempt to divert blame for the disaster, as experts have consistently warned many new buildings in Turkey were unsafe.

The BBC reports that government policies allowed “amnesties” for contractors who didn’t adhere to building regulations, including in earthquake-prone areas, in a bid to spark a construction boom.

UN official: “We have failed people north-west Syria”

The UN’s emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths has said “we have failed the people in north-west Syria” and they “rightly feel abandoned.”

In a Twitter post he added: “Looking for international help that hasn’t arrived.
My duty and our obligation is to correct this failure as fast as we can.
That’s my focus now.”

A 35-year-old is rescued from under rubble 149 hours after earthquakes hit

A 35-year-old man has been rescued from under the rubble of a collapsed building in Hatay, Turkey, 149 hours after the earthquakes hit.

The man was identified as Mustafa Sarıgul.

A 10-year-old girl was also rescued from under rubble in southern Turkey’s Hatay province 147 hours after the devastating earthquake struck the region, according to the Istanbul municipality.

While rescue operations continued in southern Turkey, hopes of finding more survivors have dimmed.

35-year-old Mustafa Sarıgul being rescued from under the rubble

Istanbul residents fear next earthquake

As Turkey reels from its deadliest earthquake in decades, some residents of Istanbul have already turned their growing anxiety elsewhere – towards the next big quake.

“We live in distress,” Aysegul Rahvanci, a lifetime Istanbul resident, of her fears about a possible strong earthquake in the city, told Al Jazeera.

“Our life equals to anxiety,” Rahvanci added.

Turkey is particularly prone to earthquakes, as it lies in an area where several tectonic plates meet. Quakes usually occur along the boundaries between plates. The North Anatolian Fault, which divides the Eurasian and Anatolian plates, runs close to Istanbul.

Prior to Monday’s quakes, a 1999 magnitude-7.6 earthquake that hit the western part of Turkey’s Marmara region, where Istanbul is also located, had been the most deadly in decades. That incident killed 17,500 people.

EU envoy to Syria says accusation of not providing enough aid ‘unfair’

The European Union’s envoy to Syria stated it is not fair to accuse the group of failing to provide enough help to Syrians following the devastating earthquake that hit swaths of Syria and Turkey.

“It is absolutely unfair to be accused of not providing aid, when actually we have constantly been doing exactly that for over a decade and we are doing so much more even during the earthquake crisis,” the head of the EU delegation, Dan Stoenescu, told Reuters news agency in written comments.

The Syrian government officially requested aid on Wednesday.

Aftershocks continue to jolt Turkey, Syria

Turkey has experienced 2356 tremors since Monday’s devastating earthquakes, according to reports.

Experts are calling for more quality-control during the construction of buildings to reduce risks in the quake-prone region.

At least 98 people arrested in Turkey over alleged looting, robbery or defrauding earthquake victims

At least 98 people were arrested on Saturday by Turkish security forces over the alleged looting of damaged buildings, robbery or defrauding victims of last week’s devastating earthquake, Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu reported.

According to security sources, who wished to remain anonymous “due to media restrictions,” investigations were carried out into at least 42 suspects in Turkey’s southern Hatay province over claims of looting damaged buildings.

At least 40 suspects were arrested and security teams seized six guns, three rifles, jewelry, bank cards, $11,000 and 70,000 Turkish lira (around $3,700) in cash, state news reported citing the sources.

Two other people were also arrested after posing as aid workers and allegedly trying to loot six truckloads of food for quake victims in Hatay province, the agency said.

At least six people were also arrested in Istanbul over allegedly defrauding a victim of the earthquake in southern Gaziantep by phone, Anadolu added.

Elsewhere in the country, dozens of other suspects were arrested for alleged looting and robbery in quake-hit areas, according to the report.

The suspects had been arrested across at least eight provinces including Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Adiyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Adana, Gaziantep, and Sanliurfa, it noted.

Humanitarian phase of earthquake recovery will last for months: International Red Cross leader

Recovery in Turkey after the devastating earthquake has now entered the “humanitarian phase,” according to Jamie LeSueur, the head of emergency operations at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

As his team moves on from search-and-rescue operations, the greatest needs for those affected in Turkey continue to be food, health and water, LeSueur told CNN from Gaziantep.

“We’ve now entered into the humanitarian phase. That is going to last for a couple of months, where we’ll still try to meet people’s basic needs,” LeSueur added.

The organization is receiving many winterized tents right now due to cold weather, but it is looking into pre-fabricated transitional shelter options, he said. Most of the population is too afraid to go inside, even if their homes have not been completely destroyed.

“We want to get them out of the humanitarian phase as quickly as possible, into something sustainable and transitional that’s going to keep them safe for a long time,” the crisis responder stated.

LeSueur added that his team is preparing for any eventuality, including the spread of diseases, and they are coordinating with the Turkish Red Crescent about sanitation needs.

The Red Cross is well-positioned to deal with needs in southern Turkey, he noted, but also in hard-hit areas of northwestern Syria, where aid has been more complicated due to years of war.

“In Turkey, we’ve established an operation that goes to the border with Syria, and in Syria, we’re using the Syrian Arab Red Crescent that going up to the Turkish border; we’re trying to cover the entire operational area with two national societies,” he continued.

Earthquake death toll exceeds 28,000 across Turkey and Syria

The death toll across Turkey and Syria following Monday’s earthquake has reached 28,192.

Turkey’s death toll climbed to 24,617, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay announced in a news conference Saturday.

In Syria, the total number of confirmed deaths stand at 3,575, including 2,167 in rebel-held areas in the northwest, according to the White Helmets civil defense group. An additional 1,408 deaths have been recorded in government-controlled territories, according to Syrian state media, which cited the country’s health ministry.

UN aid chief: Earthquake was “worst event in 100 years” for the affected regions

The United Nations aid chief described this week’s devastating earthquake in southern Turkey and northwestern Syria as the “worst event in 100 years” to hit the region.

The official, Martin Griffiths, made the remark to reporters during a visit to Kahramanmaras, Turkey, on Saturday.

“The response as you have seen here, and as your viewers have seen, is also unique,” Griffiths continued, adding, “There has never been an international response, a Turkish response to a natural disaster as we see here in these terrible days.”

Griffiths, who is the current under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the UN, stressed that the UN would have a “clear plan” on either Sunday or Monday “to give an appeal for a three-month operation to help the people of Turkey with humanitarian assistance.”

He added that a similar plan will be laid out for the people of Syria.

During his trip to Kahramanmaras, Griffith met families impacted by the devastating earthquake. Posting pictures of the meeting on Twitter, Griffiths said he had “listened to their stories of shock and devastation.”

Turkey-Syria quake deaths could double: UN official

UN relief chief Martin Griffith says the death toll from the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria could “double or more” from its current levels.

Commenting on the number of deaths, he told Sky News: “I think it is difficult to estimate precisely as we need to get under the rubble but I’m sure it will double or more.”

“We haven’t really begun to count the number of dead,” he added.

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