Thursday, May 30, 2024

Turkey-Syria earthquake live updates: Death toll goes past 36,000

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

Earthquake could cost Turkey $84bn: business group

Turkey’s worst earthquake in almost a century has left a trail of destruction that could cost Ankara up to $84.1bn, a business group has announced.

The report by the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation said the cost would include a possible $70.8bn from the repair of thousands of homes, $10.4bn from loss of national income and $2.9bn from loss of working days.

It added the main costs would be rebuilding housing, transmission lines and infrastructure, and meeting the short, medium and long-term shelter needs of the hundreds of thousands left homeless.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has stated the state will complete housing reconstruction within a year and the government was preparing a programme to “make the country stand up again”.


Turkish authorities arrest property developers amid public anger over quake response

Turkish authorities have carried out a wave of arrests of property developers accused of “negligence” over building collapses due to last week’s earthquake, amid growing public anger over the government’s response to the disaster.

At least 134 people are being treated as suspects and under investigation regarding the construction of buildings that were destroyed during the earthquake, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said.

“Three of these suspects were arrested pending trial, seven of them in custody, seven banned from travel,” Bozdag continued, adding, “Negligence detected, we will do what the law necessitates.”

Yasemin Didem Aktas, structural engineer and lecturer at University College London, told CNN that while the earthquake and its aftershocks constituted “a very powerful event that would challenge even code compliant buildings,” construction issues did exist.

“What we are seeing here is definitely telling us that something is wrong in those buildings, and it can be that they weren’t designed in code in the first place, or the implementation wasn’t designed properly,” Didem Aktas stated, noting, “We are also seeing in Turkey quite commonly that post occupancy modifications on buildings compromise their safety.”

But while the government cracks down on developers, feelings of anger and resentment continue to grow among those affected.

Turkey is no stranger to earthquakes and many feel that the government failed to prepare for another catastrophic event.

However Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has defended his government’s response, admitting to “shortcomings” but stressing that it’s “not possible to be prepared for such a disaster.”


Quakes death toll crosses 36,000

The death toll in Turkey has risen to 31,643, according to the country’s disaster management authority, AFAD, taking the total number of deaths from Monday’s devastating temblors beyond 36,000.

  • Turkey: At least 31,643 people have died, according to the AFAD, as of Monday afternoon.
  • Rebel-held northwest Syria: More than 3,200 people have died in this region, according to the White Helmets.
  • Government-held Syria: At least 1,414 people have died in parts of Syria controlled by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, according to health officials.

Rescue workers save woman in Turkey after 175 hours

A woman who had been trapped under rubble for 175 hours in Turkey’s Hatay province was rescued Monday, more than a week after the powerful quake struck.

Footage released by the Istanbul Municipality showed the woman, identified as Naide Umay, being lifted on a stretcher from underneath the rubble and into the daylight.

The rescue team included staff from the Istanbul fire department and Turkish miners, who are among the thousands of workers helping with search and rescue efforts.

Teams are still rushing to save victims that could be alive under the rubble, though aid agencies and authorities have warned the chances of finding survivors are becoming increasingly slim.


Rescuers in ‘post-catastrophe shock’ in northwest Syria

Firas al-Khalifa, a member of the White Helmets rescue organisation in opposition-controlled northwest Syria, said the area was in “post-catastrophe shock”.

He told Al Jazeera the rescuers are still working “to fulfil any appeal by families to look for their loved ones who are missing”.

“The humanitarian situation is very dire,” he continued, adding, “People are afraid to go back to their homes, which they are not sure are structurally sound. Many people fled and they have taken refuge in tents or schools or public parks.”

“There were convoys from Saudi Arabia, Kurdistan, Qatar and from the UN, but they are not enough for these large numbers of homeless people,” he noted.


52 UN trucks have entered northwest Syria from Turkey: Crossing official

Fifty-two United Nations trucks have entered opposition controlled northwest Syria from its only land crossing with Turkey, according to a spokesman for the Bab al-Hawa crossing.

Mazen Alloush the spokesman for the administration that controls the sole access point, told Al Jazeera the convoys included six trucks on Thursday, 14 trucks on Friday, 22 trucks on Saturday and 10 trucks Sunday.

They were expecting a 6-truck convoy to go through on Monday, Alloush added.


Survivor pulled from rubble 167 hours after quake hit Turkey as rescue workers race against time

One week after the devastating earthquake hit Turkey, teams are still rushing to save victims that could be alive under the rubble — even as aid agencies and authorities warned the chances of finding survivors are becoming increasingly unlikely.

After 167 hours, a man was rescued from the debris in Antakya, in southern Turkey’s Hatay province.

Earlier Sunday, a 55-year-old woman was pulled from the rubble after 159 hours buried, while an 85-year-old woman was rescued after 152 hours trapped in what her nephew described as a cavity around 30-40 centimeters (11-16 inches) wide.

Two people — a 25-year-old Syrian man and a child — were also rescued in Hatay some 151 and 152 hours after the quake hit, local officials stated on Sunday.

The man was rescued after response teams detected noises beneath the debris while conducting a sound survey in the ruins of an apartment building in Antakya, according to officials.

The technology was also used by the teams to find the child, whose age was not disclosed.

At least 34,000 people have been confirmed dead across Turkey and Syria, where relief efforts have been complicated by the long-running civil war. Rescue operations are over in rebel-held areas of northwest Syria, the White Helmets volunteer organization said over the weekend.


First European aid shipment reaches Syria

The first European aid shipment since the quakes has reached government-held areas in Syria, according to the Syrian Red Crescent.

The shipment came through Italy.

Italy’s envoy to Damascus previously told Reuters news agency the country was sending a 30-tonne shipment that included four ambulances and 13 pallets of medical equipment.

The shipment was sent to the Syrian government.


WHO chief: Assad may consider opening more border crossings for Syria quake aid

The WHO chief has said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad voiced openness to more border crossings for aid to be brought to quake victims in rebel-held northwestern Syria.

World Health Organization Director-GeneralTedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters he had met with the Syrian president in Damascus on Sunday afternoon to discuss the response to the devastating earthquake that has killed more than 33,000 people across Syria and Turkey.

Rebel-held areas in northwestern Syria, which has been ravaged by more than a decade of war, are in a particularly dire situation.

They cannot receive aid from government-held parts of Syria without Damascus’s authorisation, and the single border crossing open to shuttle aid from Turkey saw operations damaged in the quake.


US ambassador urges UN Security Council to approve more Syria aid access points

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Sunday urged the UN Security Council to approve two additional access points to deliver aid to parts of Syria hit by the deadly quake last week.

“People in the affected areas are counting on us. They are appealing to our common humanity to help in their moment of need,” Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement.

“We cannot let them down — we must vote immediately on a resolution to heed the UN’s call for authorization of additional border crossings for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. We have the power to act. It’s time to move with urgency and purpose,” she added.

The delivery of urgent supplies to quake-hit areas of northern Syria has been complicated by a long-running war between militant groups and the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia, which backs Assad’s government, has previously blocked approval for another aid route to Syria at the UN.

The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator on Sunday stressed the need to “open more access points” to get aid out quicker. The head of the White Helmets volunteer group urged the UN to act outside the Security Council to open three crossings for emergency aid.


Quakes destroy over 115 schools in Syria: UN

Recent earthquakes have destroyed more than 115 schools in Syria and damaged hundreds more, according to a United Nations update, Reuters reported.

More than 100 other schools were being used as makeshift shelters to host thousands displaced by the earthquake, which brought apartment blocks and even tiny rural homes crashing down on residents’ heads.


EU Commission chief pledges extra support for Turkey in call with Erdogan

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has promised to bolster aid for Turkey as the country grapples with the aftermath of last Monday’s devastating earthquake.

In a phone call Sunday, Von der Leyen told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “the Commission will mobilize additional support and respond to Turkey’s latest request for more shelter capacity — in particular tents, blankets, heaters,” according to an EU readout of the call.

Von der Leyen conveyed her “deepest condolences and those of the European Union for the catastrophic loss of life and destruction caused by the recent earthquake,” the readout added.

The EU hopes to drum up additional funding for Turkey and Syria during a donor conference set to be held in Brussels in March.

In a news release Wednesday, the bloc said its operation in the impacted regions is one of the “largest ever search and rescue operations” carried out through its Civil Protection Mechanism. A total of 21 EU member states and three participating states have so far offered 38 response teams, consisting of 1,651 people and 106 search and rescue dogs, according to the readout.


UN aid convoys entered northwest Syria over the weekend

A convoy of 10 United Nations aid trucks entered northwest Syria through the Bab Al-Hawa Turkish border crossing on Sunday, UNOCHA spokesperson Madevi Sun-Suon said.

The trucks from the UN’s International Organization for Migrants (IOM) carried comprehensive shelter kits, Sun-Suon continued.

She added it comes after 22 UN vehicles crossed through Bab Al-Hawa on Saturday, including:

  • 12 trucks from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • 7 trucks from the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • 2 trucks from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • 1 truck from the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)

The delivery of urgent supplies to quake-hit areas of northern Syria, much of which is held by rebels, has been complicated by the country’s long-running war.

On Sunday, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, tweeted from the Turkey-Syria border saying the people of northwest Syria “rightly feel abandoned.”

“We have so far failed the people in northwest Syria,” Griffiths continued, adding that his focus and obligation now is “to correct this failure as fast as we can.”


Over 34,000 people have died across Turkey and Syria after devastating earthquake

The death toll across Turkey and Syria following Monday’s catastrophic earthquake has reached at least 34,179 on Sunday.

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

The confirmed death toll in Syria is 4,574. That number includes more than 3,160 in opposition-held parts of northwestern Syria, according to the health ministry of the Salvation Government governance authority.

The Syrian death toll also includes 1,414 deaths in government-controlled parts of Syria, according to state news agency SANA.


WHO waiting for final approval to send deliveries into rebel-held northwest Syria

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is waiting for final approval to send crossline deliveries into northwest Syria, where rebel groups in the country’s long-running war control territory and aid deliveries have faced obstacles.

The WHO hopes its Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will soon be able to travel into the rebel-held areas hit by Monday’s devastating earthquake, the organization announced Sunday.

Tedros and a team of top WHO officials arrived in Aleppo on Saturday on a humanitarian aid flight carrying over $290,000 worth of trauma emergency and surgical kits.

Rick Brennan, a regional emergency director with the WHO, said in a media briefing from Damascus Sunday that there have been “no crossline deliveries” into northwest Syria since the earthquake struck Monday.

“We have one scheduled in the next couple of days. We are still negotiating for that to go ahead,” Brennan continued, adding that before the earthquake the WHO was “planning a significant expansion of our crossline work.”

According to Brennan, the WHO has the approval of the Syrian government in Damascus but is waiting for the “approval … from entities on the other side.”

“We are working very, very hard to negotiate that access,” Brennan stressed.

On Sunday, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths tweeted that “trucks with UN relief are rolling into north-west Syria,” posting pictures of trucks being loaded for cross-border deliveries. Although he stated he was “encouraged by the scale-up of convoys from the UN transshipment centre at the Turkish border.”

The aid chief stressed the need to “open more access points” to get aid out quicker.

This call was echoed by Raed Al Saleh, the head of volunteer organization the White Helmets, in a tweet Sunday. Al Saleh noted that after meeting with Griffiths at the Turkish-Syrian border Sunday, his group had appreciated the “apology for the shortcomings & mistakes,” made. He called on the UN to act now outside the Security Council to “open 3 crossings for emergency aid” to northwest Syria.

The WHO official reiterated that even before the earthquake, only 51% of medical facilities in government-held Syria were fully functional, with around 25% to 30% at partial capacity. He stated that although the WHO does not have access to the same level of data when it comes to medical care in northwest, they estimated “probably similar figures” as far as capacity is concerned.

“I think this is one of these cases where 10 years of war, or 10 years of instability, have just pulverized this health system to a point where it just can’t deliver adequately,” said Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program.

“That’s not only physical damage to the infrastructure itself, but the loss of salaries, loss of training. And it’s just been that ‘death by 1000 cuts’ to the system, and then the system has reacted admirably to what’s been a massive disaster, but people can only do so much,” Ryan remarked.


Over 2,000 buildings destroyed, severely damaged in northwest Syria

The Syrian Civil Defence group has said that some 550 buildings were completely destroyed in rebel-held territory in northwestern Syria following last week’s earthquakes.

More than 1,570 were also severely damaged, announced the group, also known as the White Helmets.

Volunteers have begun opening roads that were partially or completely closed by rubble in several areas of northwest Syria, the group tweeted.


Qatar’s emir visits Turkey, expresses solidarity with quake victims

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has expressed Qatar’s support for the people of Turkey and Syria.

“I met my brother President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today, and learned about the latest repercussions of the devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria,” the emir tweeted after meeting the Turkish leader in Istanbul on Sunday.

“We affirm our support and solidarity with our brothers and pledge to contribute to the efforts to mitigate this disaster,” he added.

The Qatari emir was the first foreign leader to visit Turkey after last week’s devastating earthquakes.

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