Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Turkey-Syria earthquake live updates: Death toll rises to 40,000

Search operation continues for the possible survivors in quake-hit southeast Turkey and northern Syria. At least 40,000 people have been killed and tens of thousands injured after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Turkey and Syria.

WHO says northwest Syria of ‘greatest concern’

The World Health Organization has revealed it is particularly concerned over the welfare of people in northwestern Syria, a rebel-held region with little access to aid

“It’s clear that the zone of greatest concern at the moment is the area of northwestern Syria,” WHO’s emergencies director, Mike Ryan, told a press briefing in Geneva.

“The impact of the earthquake in areas of Syria controlled by the government is significant, but the services are there and there is access to those people. We have to remember here that in Syria, we’ve had ten years of war. The health system is amazingly fragile. People have been through hell,” he added.

Assad welcomes ‘positive stance’ from Arab countries towards Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has welcomed “any positive stance” from Arab nations, including many that severed ties with Damascus since the outbreak of its war.

The 57-year-old’s remarks came during a meeting with Jordanian foreign minister Ayman Safadi in Damascus, the second visit by a top Arab diplomat to Syria since the earthquakes.

“The Syrian people welcome and respond to any positive stance towards them, especially from the Arab brothers,” al-Assad said, according to a statement from his office.

He further emphasised the importance of “bilateral cooperation between Syria and Jordan”.

Saudi Arabia plans to establish temporary houses for quake victims

Saudi Arabia plans to establish several thousand temporary houses for quake victims in Turkey and Syria, the head of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has said.

Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Rabeeah told Al Ekhbariya television that his country was “studying the construction of 3,000 temporary houses in quake-hit areas in Turkey and Syria”.

“We will continue to help those affected by the earthquake disaster … for weeks and perhaps months due to the great scale of the tragedy,” Al Rabeeah added.

WHO says it asked President Assad to open Syria border crossings

Senior World Health Organization officials asked Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to open more border crossing with Turkey to get aid to areas of northern Syria hit by powerful earthquakes, the head of WHO has said.

“We requested that he [al-Assad] allow additional cross-border access points, which he indicated he was open to,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.

“On Monday, two more cross border points were opened, allowing convoys from Turkey into the northwest of the Syrian Arab Republic,” he added.

Turkey reports 50,576 buildings collapsed, damaged

Turkey has announced a total of 50,576 buildings have either collapsed or are heavily damaged following the earthquakes that first struck last week.

In a report, the country’s Ministry of Environment said all at-risk buildings need to be demolished urgently. Authorities have so far inspected more than 387,000 buildings across the 10 quake-hit southeastern provinces.

The city of Gaziantep has the highest number of buildings that need to be urgently demolished – nearly 12,000, followed by 10,911 in Hatay and 10,777 in Kahramanmaras, the report added.

The quakes were followed by 3,858 aftershocks, according to the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

74-year-old woman pulled from rubble after 227 hours

A 74-year-old woman has been pulled out alive from the rubble by rescue teams in Kahramanmaras, 227 hours after the first earthquake hit on February 6. Kahramanmaras is near the epicentre of the first quake.

Turkish media identified the woman as Cemile Kekec. The rescue came as chances of finding survivors have greatly diminished.

Northwest Syria humanitarian situation ‘horrible’: Activist

The humanitarian outlook in northwest Syria remains “horrible”, activist Abdulkafi Alhamdo told Al Jazeera.

Alhamdo, speaking from the opposition-held city of Idlib, decried the slow response from the United Nations in beginning to deliver aid to the region. The UN has admitted shortcomings in its slow delivery of aid. On Tuesday, the UN began delivering aid via two newly approved crossings, bringing the total number of approved crossings to three.

“People here … need urgent help. They needed urgent help from the first day of the earthquake, nevertheless, the United Nations was very slow in responding to these people,” Alhamdo stated.

He added there are widespread medical shortages and access to clean water is limited, leaving people “no other choice but to drink and use this water that’s not appropriate”.

“This area is suffering from two earthquakes, the one we suffered from the earth … that’s coming from nature. But the stronger earthquake that hit this area is from United Nations, who was very late,” he continued.

Rescue operations continue in Turkey

Search and rescue operations continue in southern Turkey, even as the hope of finding survivors faded nine days after the initial earthquake.

The Turkish government has announced 74 teams from abroad have been helping in rescue efforts in the country.

As per experts, the first 72 hours are considered to be critical, and the survival ratio gradually reduces to 6 percent by the fifth day.

Aid convoy reaches northwest Syria after crossing front line: Report

An aid convoy has reached earthquake-hit northwestern Syria from the eastern Deir al-Zor province, according to Reuters news agency.

The aid convoy arrived overnight in the area controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), according to a Reuters witness.

It had been organised by Syrian Arab tribes, according to the news agency. Many of the Syrians displaced from Deir al-Zor to the rebel-held northwest during Syria’s war are members of Arab tribes that wield significant influence.

More aid was being collected, said Hamoud Saleh al-Darjah, an organiser. The aid would be distributed in the north without discrimination, he told Reuters.

“This isn’t the last campaign,” he added.

42-year-old rescued in Turkey after 222 hours

A 42-year-old woman has been rescued from the rubble of a building in the southern Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, where she was trapped for almost 222 hours.

TV footage showed rescue workers carrying the woman, identified as Melike Imamoglu, strapped on a stretcher to a nearby ambulance.

The astounding rescues comes as survivor discoveries have slowed on the ninth day of rescue operations. Kahramanmaras is close the to the epicentre of last week’s earthquakes.

Turkish stock exchange reopens

Turkey’s stock exchange, which has been closed for the past week following the earthquakes, has reopened.

Borsa Istanbul’s BIST 100 index opened with a 5.8 percent gain over February 7, when it had seen a sharp fall in the aftermath of the disasters.

By the time the exchange was temporarily shut on February 8, the index had fallen 16 percent compared to pre-quake levels.

212 hours under the rubble: 77-year-old survivor rescued in Turkey

A 77-year-old woman was pulled from the rubble in the city of Adiyaman – surviving an astounding 212 hours of being trapped, according to Anadolu news agency.

Turkish media reported that Fatma Gungor was pulled alive from the rubble of a seven-storey apartment block in the city of Adiyaman during the overnight rescue Monday into Tuesday.

Wearing an oxygen mask, covered in a gold foil blanket and strapped onto a stretcher, Gungor was carried by rescue workers down from the ruins of the building to a waiting ambulance, footage of the rescue showed.

Afterwards, Gungor’s relatives hugged the rescue team, made up of military personnel and members of the disaster management authority AFAD.

Nine others were rescued from the rubble on Tuesday, eight days since the initial earthquakes hit.

Over seven million children affected by Turkey-Syria quake: UN

More than seven million children have been affected by the massive earthquake and a major aftershock that devastated Turkey and Syria last week, the United Nations has said, voicing fear that “many thousands” more had died.

“In Turkey, the total number of children living in the 10 provinces hit by the two earthquakes was 4.6 million children. In Syria, 2.5 million children are affected,” James Elder, spokesman for the UN children’s agency UNICEF, told reporters in Geneva.

“UNICEF fears many thousands of children have been killed,” Elder added, warning that “even without verified numbers, it is tragically clear that numbers will continue grow.”

Erdogan says stricter construction rules needed in the country

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoganhas stated that the death toll in Turkey due to last week’s earthquake has increased to 35,418.

He said enforcement of stricter building regulations was needed in the country after a powerful earthquake that rocked southern Turkey last week, killing tens of thousands people.

Erdogan added “collapsed buildings reminded the government of the need for stricter construction rules” in a televised speech, adding that his government would continue work until the last person was rescued from the ruins in the quake-hit area.

NATO to send 1,000 containers to Turkey

NATO has announced it will send more than 1,000 shipping containers to Turkey to help provide shelter for earthquake survivors.

“This semi-permanent shelter is capable of housing at least 2,000 people displaced by the earthquakes in Turkey,” said a tweet from NATO’s Joint Force Command in Naples.

The containers, which are currently in Italy’s Taranto, will be sent to Turkey next week, the alliance added.

Nine survivors pulled from rubble in Turkey on Tuesday

A total of nine people were rescued from the rubble in Turkey on Tuesday, including two brothers aged 17 and 21, who were pulled from the rubble of an apartment block in Kahramanmaras province.

State-owned Anadolu news agency identified them as 17-year-old Muhammed Enes Yeninar and his brother, 21-year-old Baki Yeninar, who was rescued after him.

They were both placed in ambulances and taken to hospital. Their condition was unclear.

Three other women, two in Hatay province and one in Kahramanmaras city, were also rescued on Tuesday, Turkish media reported.

UN appeals for $397m to provide shelter, food to Syrian survivors

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has launched an appeal for $397m to help earthquake victims in Syria, saying the funds would bring “life-saving relief” for nearly five million Syrians and would cover a period of three months.

“One week after the devastating earthquakes, millions of people across the region are struggling for survival, homeless and in freezing temperatures. We are doing all we can to change this. But much more is needed,” Guterres said in New York City.

He called on member states to “fully fund this effort without delay” and said the money will provide “desperately needed, life-saving relief for nearly five million Syrians — including shelter, health care, food and protection”.

Guterres also urged that aid workers be allowed to operate freely in Syria, already wracked by 12 years of war.

He added that the UN is in the final stages of preparing an appeal for quake-ravaged southern Turkey.

Syria death toll tops 5,800

More than 5,800 people have now been confirmed dead in Syria following the deadly earthquakes that rocked southern Turkey last Monday.

The death toll in opposition-held northwest Syria has crossed 4,400, according to the UN relief agency, OCHA.

At least 1,414 people have died in areas controlled by the Bashar Assad government, according to health officials.

The actual number of casualties, however, could be far greater.

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