More than 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 said, warning that “even without verified numbers, it is tragically clear that numbers will continue grow.”
The dogs helping find earthquake survivors in Turkey
Hours after two huge earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks struck southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria on February 6, much-needed rescuers began to arrive in Turkey, including K9 teams from around the world that had come to lend a hand.
A K9 (a homophone of canine) team includes a dog, or dogs, specially trained to assist security forces and emergency teams – in rescues, drug enforcement or other operations. These dogs came from, among other countries, El Salvador, Germany, Mexico, Qatar, South Korea, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United States.
Read more here.
Erdogan says stricter construction rules needed in the country
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has 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 said “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.
Death toll in Turkey surpasses 35,000: Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that the death toll in Turkey due to last week’s earthquake has increased to 35,418.
UK’s King Charles meets Turkey-Syria earthquake volunteers
The United Kingdom’s King Charles has met volunteers from the Turkish and Syrian diasporas in London to express his support after more than 37,000 people died and thousands were left homeless by the recent earthquake in Turkey and northwestern Syria.
Charles shook hands with charity workers during a visit to West London Turkish Volunteers (WLTV), and chatted with them as they packed scarves, blankets, jumpers, and packets of biscuits as part of earthquake relief efforts.
He also formally launched Syria’s House, a temporary Syrian community tent in Trafalgar Square in central London, where he met the capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, among others.
Survivors have lost everything: Idlib resident
Abdulkafi Alhamdo, an activist and a resident of Idlib, says rescue workers are still continuing to search for survivors under the rubble, even as “the chances of getting to people alive are almost zero”.
Speaking to Al Jazeera from Idlib, he sounded the alarm on the immense humanitarian emergency faced by survivors in northwestern Syria, a region, he said, was “already devastated before the earthquake”.
“The people who have survived this catastrophe have lost everything,” he said, adding that the United Nations has been “very late” in responding to the people’s needs.
“They need tents, carpets, blankets, food, medical treatment,” added Alhmado, noting also that psychological support was needed to deal with the mental trauma.
Nearly nine million Syrians affected by last week’s earthquake: UN
Nearly nine million people in Syria were affected by last week’s devastating earthquake, the United Nations has said in a statement.
Woman rescued 205 hours after Turkey quake
A Ukrainian rescue team has pulled a woman alive from the rubble of a building in the southern Turkish province of Hatay, some 205 hours since the first earthquake, CNN Turk reported.
This takes the number of survivors rescued on Tuesday to seven.
UN launches $397m Syria appeal
The UN has launched an appeal for $397.6m to help victims in Syria.
A statement said the money was needed “to respond to the most pressing humanitarian needs over the next three months”.
Antonio Guterres, the world body’s chief, said a similar appeal for Turkey was in the “final stages”.
First UN aid trucks cross into northwest Syria through Bab al-Salam
Ten International Organization for Migration trucks carrying humanitarian assistance have passed through the Bab al-Salam crossing into northwestern Syria from Turkey, a spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has told Al Jazeera.
The passage marked the first time a UN convoy has used the crossing to deliver aid since its closure in 2020. An 11th truck is expected to pass through the crossing shortly.
Another 26 inter-agency trucks went through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, until now the only entry point for UN humanitarian aid to directly reach people in opposition-held northwestern Syria.
Damages from Turkey quake estimated to surpass $20bn
Damages from deadly earthquakes in Turkey will probably exceed $20bn, according to the risk modelling company Verisk.
Only a fraction of the damages – likely more than $1bn – is covered by insurance, Verisk said.
Earthquakes are relatively common in Turkey, and despite regulations to build to protect against earthquakes, results have been “mixed”, Verisk said.
Structures compliant with building codes “have performed relatively well, while many others have experienced significant damage and collapse during earthquakes”, it said.
Relief effort a marathon: Turkish Red Crescent
Kerem Kinik, president of the Turkish Red Crescent, told Al Jazeera the relief efforts would continue for a minimum of 18 months.
Kinik said that international assistance would be needed in what he described as a marathon operation.
In the short term, Kinik said there continued to be a shortage of shelter and tents and warned of the risk of the spread of infectious diseases amid the challenging conditions.
Give us death or return us home: Syrian refugee
Antakya, Turkey – At a military-run tent site in Turkey’s Antakya, authorities have separated Turks and Syrians for what they say are security purposes.
Hassan Jadan, a Syrian man from Idlib and father of eight, said this was the 11th time he had been displaced.
“We’re asking for one thing only, that God give us death or they return us to our home in Syria,” he told Al Jazeera.
A woman rescued from rubble in Turkey 203 hours after quake: media
A woman has been rescued from the rubble of a building in the southern Turkish city of Hatay, some 203 hours after a devastating earthquake struck the region, according to Turkish media.
Survivors huddle in train carriages
Osmaniye, Turkey — Nearly 1,000 people are staying in carriages at Osmaniye railway station, after their homes either collapsed in the February 6 earthquakes or were left unsafe to live in.
They have been at the train station since the day after the quakes.
People who stay in the carriages are given three meals a day and have access to mobile toilets and showers provided by the government. The government says it is also providing “psychological support” to the survivors.
The dogs helping find earthquake survivors in Turkey
Along humans, other kind of rescuers have been working non-stop to find survivors trapped under rubble: dogs.
A K9 (a homophone of canine) team includes a dog or dogs specially trained to assist security forces and emergency teams – in rescues, drug enforcement or other operations.
The much-welcomed rescuers can find victims by scent alone – a key asset when it’s difficult to find survivors by sight or sound.
Read the full story here.
Listening for signs of life near quake epicentre
Kahramanmaras, Turkey — In this city close to the epicentre of last week’s devastating earthquakes, a Chinese rescue team was at work, trying to search for signs of life under piles of rubble. Their tool: their ears.
At a spot from which Al Jazeera was reporting, there were an estimated 22 bodies under the rubble and the Chinese team members were going back in and out of the area trying to listen for any voices.
Then, two French search and rescuers arrived. They had received a phone call saying that a voice was heard in the vicinity of a nearby half-standing hotel. So they went in to try and listen. But about an hour later, a body was carried out — and a morgue car arrived.
Morgue drivers work around the clock
Morgue drivers are working around the clock in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, the closest to the epicentre, to give families the chance to bury their beloved ones.
“We give the bodies back to the families and they hug us and they thank us … so that they can somehow have some form of closure,” a Turkish volunteer told Al Jazeera.
One of the tragedies for those who survived the devastating earthquakes, on top of the destruction and discomfort, is that it is impossible to provide a dignified burial for family members or friends whose bodies are still trapped under the rubble.
Woman rescued after 201 hours
Emine Akgul, 26, was rescued in Hatay, Turkey from under rubble, 201 hours after the earthquakes last week.
Quake victim gives birth to baby girl
A quake victim, who was brought to the Bodrum district of Turkey’s southwestern Mugla province, gave birth to a baby girl, the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Isil Ozdemir, 22, and her relatives came to Bodrum after their house in Hatay province was destroyed.
“I am both scared and very happy. I held my baby in my arms in good health,” the mother said, adding that she experienced great panic during the earthquakes.
“It was raining during the earthquakes. We managed to get out of the building and stayed in a car for three-four days,” she added.
Syrian doctors from the US arrive to help
A team of 14 Syrian doctors based in the US has come to northwest Syria to help in relief and medical care as the region grapples with the aftermath of the last week’s earthquakes.
The doctors entered the opposition-held region through the Bab al-Hawa entry point, the spokesperson of the border crossing, Mazen Alloush, said.
WHO says Turkey quakes Europe’s worst natural disaster in a century
The World Health Organization’s director for Europe, which includes Turkey, says the February 6 earthquakes were the “worst natural disaster” in 100 years in the region.
“We are witnessing the worst natural disaster in the WHO European region for a century and we are still learning about its magnitude,” Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, told a news conference.
Syria is a member of the WHO’s neighbouring Eastern Mediterranean region.
Map: Where aid is entering northwest Syria
UN aid trucks will now roll into Syria’s country’s rebel-held northwest region through two more crossings in addition to Bab al-Hawa, which was the only operational crossing for several days since the last week’s earthquakes.
The two crossings that will also be used are Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Raee. Here is where the three checkpoints are located and how geography in a divided Syria determines how aid travels, and who gets it:
As Turkey quake death toll rises, accusations fly
In Ankara, the Turkish government is facing accusations of failing to take precautions to minimise the damage from the earthquakes.
Opposition politicians say the government did not act on advice from experts, who had warned of the impending danger.
Turkey’s death toll rises to nearly 32,000
Turkey’s disaster agency says 31,974 people have died in the last week’s earthquakes.
It added that nearly 195,962 victims were evacuated from the affected areas in southern Turkey.
UN aid convoy crosses into northwest Syria
Bab al-Hawa, Turkey-Syria border — A UN aid convoy has entered rebel-held northwest Syria from Turkey through the Bab al-Hawa crossing. Giant trucks carrying aid rolled into the region devastated by last week’s earthquakes.
The aid convoy followed after a UN team of senior officials had crossed over into Syria at Bab al-Hawa. On Monday, the Syrian government had given its approval for the use of two more crossings from Turkey into northwest Syria by UN aid convoys.
UN says more than 7 million children hit by quakes
More than seven million children have been affected by the massive earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, UNICEF says, voicing fear that “many thousands” more had died.
“While the total number of children affected remains unclear, 4.6 million children live in the 10 provinces of Türkiye hit by the earthquakes, and more than 2.5 million children are affected in Syria,” read a UNICEF report.
“Many families have lost their homes and are now living in temporary shelters, often in freezing conditions and with snow and rain adding to their suffering,” it added.
Access to safe water and sanitation is also a serious concern, as are the health needs of the affected population.
Turkey to suspend some gold imports: Report
Turkey will suspend some gold imports as part of an emergency plan to mitigate the economic fallout from the earthquakes, Bloomberg News reported, citing an official with direct knowledge of the matter.
UN team crosses over into Syria
Bab al-Hawa, Turkey-Syria border – A UN team has crossed into rebel-held northwest Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing.
The team included representatives from the World Food Programme, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and UNICEF.
On Monday, the Syrian government had given its approval for the use of two more crossings from Turkey into northwest Syria by UN aid convoys.
More than 8,000 people in Turkey pulled alive from debris: Erdogan
More than 8,000 people have been pulled out alive from rubble in Turkey, President Erdogan said, expressing his gratitude to all countries that came forward to provide support after the twin deadly earthquakes.
He also said a large number of more than 81,000 people injured in the earthquakes have been discharged from hospitals, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
“I would like to thank once again all the friendly and sisterly countries that have been collecting aid for our nation day and night, supporting our search and rescue efforts with their teams, and not forgetting us in their prayers,” Erdogan added.
Turkey will never forget “the friendship you showed on this dark day”, he said.
Türkiye is grateful to all the countries for the help they provided for the search and rescue and relief efforts in the aftermath of the powerful twin earthquakes, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said https://t.co/HGF1rQd6zv pic.twitter.com/lLe0vCSCPF
— ANADOLU AGENCY (@anadoluagency) February 14, 2023
‘Fate’ or ‘crime’ debate erupts among Turkey survivors
Osmaniye, Turkey — Halil Ibrahim Çalışkan, 50, owned a supermarket in a building that still stands more than a week after the devastating earthquakes in Turkey.
Yet the building, only 19 years old, will have to be demolished. Çalışkan is not allowed to enter his shop because it is too dangerous, and is trying to salvage some of his products from the fridges outside to return to the suppliers and reduce the debt he owes them. He has no insurance and estimates he has lost about 1 million Turkish lire ($53,000).
“It’s not fate. People are to blame for making weak buildings,” he said.Çalışkan said he used to vote for President Recep Tayyip Edogan’s Justice and Development Party, but holds them ultimately responsible for the state of the country’s buildings. He said he will now vote for the opposition in upcoming elections — including a presidential vote — scheduled for later this year.
Doğan işdar, 63, and his wife Figen, 53, lived on the eighth floor of the same building. They disagreed with Çalışkan. They have been given food, clothing and a space to sleep in a local dormitory.
“I want to say thanks to our government, it’s so strong, it’s helping us so much – even more than we need,” Doğan said.
Figen was blunter in her defence of the government. “It’s a lie when people say the government is not helping,” she said. “The biggest fault is with the builders. They do [their crimes] secretly, they hide it.”
“This was fate – it’s enough that we have our lives.”
Aid collected for Turkey quake victims set on fire in Germany
Surprise and condemnation over al-Assad approval for aid crossings
Al Jazeera correspondent Zeina Khodr says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s decision to allow the UN to use two more border crossings to enter aid into Syria was welcomed with surprise and condemnation.
The UN has welcomed the move, which came after high-level talks in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and what were likely backdoor deals, Khodr said.
“But many believe that this cooperation from the Syrian president is part of a campaign to exploit the situation for him to regain political legitimacy so the world engages with him,” she said.
Syria has been isolated, with the United States and European countries imposing stringent sanctions since the start of the war in 2011.
“This is what is concerning the Syrian opposition … they are saying that waiting for Assad to agree on the opening of border crossings was wrong and they should have just used the crossings without his approval, especially considering that people are in desperate need,” she added.
During the course of the conflict, the Syrian government, with the backing of Russia, has prevented the UN and the international community from delivering aid to northwest Syria by closing four border crossings and leaving one open, the Bab al-Hawa crossing.
Signs of war at new Syrian aid crossing
Bab al-Salam, Turkey-Syria border — One of the two crossings that have been approved in addition to Bab al-Hawa for transferring aid from Turkey into northwest Syria, Bab al-Salam, was largely deserted on Tuesday morning.
United Nations aid has not started to trickle in yet here. An Al Jazeera team crossed over with the Syrian opposition to witness the damage and destruction caused by last week’s devastating earthquakes.
Little has changed from the peak years of the Syria war: Even now, opposition flags hang alongside Turkish ones at the crossing. This was one of the first areas that the opposition controlled during the war and served as an important lifeline for them.Aazaz, the first city one comes to after entering northwest Syria through the crossing, still has tents lining the sides of the road. It is an indication that while the guns may have fallen silent, this war is far from over. There are still at least two million people in this opposition-controlled region who live in tents and makeshift shelters — and the earthquake has added to those numbers.
The signs of war are everywhere. The road from the crossing eventually leads to Damascus, Hama and Aleppo — cities that are under the control of the government. It is a country still divided by front lines.
(Follow Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr on Twitter at @zeinakhodraljaz)
Volunteers in Moscow collect aid for earthquake victims
Volunteers in Moscow have collected tonnes of aid and donated more than $1m so far to help the earthquake victims.
Israeli flights to Turkey to resume as ties improve
Israeli airlines will resume direct flights to Turkey as a mark of a continued improvement in bilateral relations, Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen has said.
The first such flight will depart on Thursday, Cohen told reporters during what he described as a solidarity visit to Turkey, which credited Israel for sending relief delegations after last week’s earthquake.
Two dogs rescued from rubble
A parallel rescue effort is under way to save animals, with two dogs emerging as survivors from rubble six days after the earthquakes.
“One of the dogs clung to its owner’s corpse, and it was absolutely a miracle that it was rescued six days later,” said Csenay Tekinbas, a representative of the local Haytap animal welfare group.
“I hope it holds on to life,” Tekinbas said of the dog that finally left its dead owner. Already, field hospitals have been set up in four cities to care for rescued pets.
Survival is just the first step. Those hurrying to find pets also struggle to give them proper care. “There is no food, bird food, chicken feed or anything in any pet shop at the moment. Because everywhere is either closed or collapsed,” Tekinbas said.
Large bags of pet food are stacked at a relief station in one Antakya square, their crisp images of green lawns and happily panting pets contrasting with the grim surroundings. Nearby, a burly dog nibbled at a bowl.
Turkey plans tax exemption for share buybacks: Turkish state media
The Turkish Treasury is planning to provide tax exemptions in order to increase share buybacks of companies listed on the Borsa Istanbul stock exchange, the state-run Anadolu agency reports.
When the Borsa Istanbul reopens for trading after a shutdown of five days due to the devastating earthquakes, the authorities will announce the tax relief to encourage share buybacks of companies, Anadolu said, without citing a source.
The decision was taken at a meeting of finance minister Nureddin Nebati with officials from the central bank, the capital markets board and the Borsa Istanbul.
Anadolu said, according to the decision, the listed companies will be able to buy back shares without paying a retention tax of 15 percent. Bloomberg reported that the stock exchange is expected to reopen on Wednesday.
Search operations in northwest Syria about to end: Rescue group
Search operations for more survivors beneath the rubble are about to end in Syria’s opposition-controlled northwest, the head of the White Helmets rescue group says.
“It’s about to come to a close. The indications we have are that there are not any (survivors) but we are trying to do our final checks and on all sites,” said Raed al-Saleh.
The group also said they were also collecting the names of the missing people in the enclave.
Teenager rescued from rubble in Turkey 182 hours after earthquake
Where aid doesn’t reach — and where it does
Osmaniye, Turkey — More than 100 people are staying at a makeshift shelter in this city in southern Turkey after their houses were damaged or collapsed.
They scavenged material to make the tents themselves, and are yet to receive any support from AFAD, the state emergency and disaster committee. They have only some food from the municipality. The adults declined to be photographed but allowed Al Jazeera to photograph their children.
“We need heaters, we need food, we need support for our kids” Songül Bulşan, 44, said. Her child has a cough. “We asked for tents – but we couldn’t even get a tent. It’s so cold – if we find tyres, we burn them. We burn whatever we can find to get warm. There is not much help in Osmaniye right now.”
Meanwhile, a nearby camp of AFAD tents in a local school is full. People there said the authorities are doing the best they can in the situation. They are scared to enter their damaged properties amid strong aftershocks.
Bulşan she is sensitive to foreign journalists making “propaganda”.
“You cannot blame anyone, the impact is so much. Even if Turkey gets totally flattened we will love our government”.
After the earthquakes, war-hit Syrians struggle to get aid
After years of war, residents in northwest Syria affected by the massive earthquakes are grappling with their new and worsening reality.
The earthquakes displaced many in Syria for a second time, forcing some to sleep under olive groves in winter conditions.
One week after the devastating earthquakes, the United Nations has acknowledged an international failure to help Syrian quake victims.
Two people rescued in Turkey nearly 198 hours after quakes
Chances of finding survivors more than one week after the deadly quakes are shrinking fast with the UN saying that the focus is switching from rescue operations to shelter, food and schooling.
Yet, rare stories of survival are still emerging.
A 17-year-old and an unidentified man were rescued from the rubble of an apartment block in Turkey’s Kahramanmaras province nearly 198 hours since the first earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, broadcaster CNN Turk said.
It showed rescue workers carrying the two people, strapped onto stretchers, to waiting ambulances.
Syrian rescue group shocked at UN move to allow al-Assad say in aid deliveries
Raed al-Saleh, head of the White Helmets rescue group which operates in opposition-controlled northwest Syria, has slammed the UN’s decision giving Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a say in sanctioning their aid deliveries through border crossings with Turkey, saying it gave him “free political gain”.
“This is shocking and we are at loss at how the UN is behaving,” al-Saleh told Reuters, echoing sentiment among many Syrians in the opposition-held enclave.
His comment came a day after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said al-Assad had agreed to allow UN aid deliveries to the area through two border crossings from Turkey for three months.
Death toll crosses 37,000
Here is a breakdown of the latest figures:
- Turkey: At least 31,643 people have died in the country’s southeast, according to the Turkish disaster management authority, AFAD.
- Rebel-held northwest Syria: More than 4,400 people have died in this region, according to the UN relief agency, OCHA.
- Government-held Syria: At least 1,414 people have died in areas controlled by al-Assad’s forces, according to health officials.
Quakes pile misery on Syria’s war-ravaged Jandaris
Residents of the northwest Syrian city of Jandaris, hit hard by earthquakes, have been scrambling to find and pick up remnants of their lives from between mounds of concrete and mangled metal.
Some cried as they sat atop the rubble of their homes. Others armed only with shovels and picks tried to clear the rubble.
Many of the people Al Jazeera spoke to had been displaced by war and were now grappling with a new sense of loss.
“I have been an IDP for three years living in Jandaris. The earthquake hit us on Monday and we lost many people including my sister, my nephew and my brother-in-law. Right now we are retrieving whatever we can find from our belongings,” said Louai Fares al-Khalaf, 36, from Bsaqla district.See more from Ali Haj Suleiman’s dispatch from the rebel-held town of Jandaris in Aleppo province.
More than 300 Russian soldiers assisting in Syria quake relief
More than 300 Russian servicemen and 60 units of special military equipment are helping Syria in its response to last week’s earthquakes, Russia’s defence ministry said.
“Servicemen of the Russian group of forces continue to carry out activities to clear rubble and eliminate the consequences of earthquakes,” the defence ministry said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app, referring to Russian forces stationed in Syria.
“More than 300 servicemen and 60 units of military and special equipment have been involved in the work.”
Food packages and disinfectants as well as other essentials had also been delivered to humanitarian aid points in the northwestern city of Aleppo, the ministry added.
‘Only bones left’: Turkey families look for remains as hopes fade
Antakya and Iskenderun, Turkey – After the earthquakes struck Turkey last week, Erdem Avsaroglu’s sister, her husband, and their two children were trapped in the rubble of their collapsed apartment block in Antakya. Yet they were alive and could communicate with rescuers.
That changed a day and a half later, after a fire broke out on Tuesday night deep inside the rubble, possibly from a generator. Avsaroglu, a professional firefighter, watched in frustration that night as the fire raged for hours.
After the fire, no more sounds came from the wreckage. Heat still emanated from the building remnants on Sunday, almost five days later, as diggers worked to painstakingly sift through and clear the rubble.
Indian army treats quake survivors at field hospital in Turkey’s Iskenderun
In the Turkish port city of Iskenderun, a field hospital set up by the Indian army is the only health facility serving a pre-earthquake population of 250,000 people.
“Initially, we had trauma [injuries]. Loss of limbs, as well as chest and head trauma patients who had been buried in the rubble,” said Lieutenant Colonel Yaduvir Singh. “Now, the patient profile is changing. Gradually, more of the infectious diseases are coming.”
Watch Al Jazeera’s dispatch from Iskenderun below.
Excavators start removing debris in Turkey’s Hatay
Excavators have begun removing debris from an urban area in Turkey’s hard-hit Hatay province, drone footage showed, as the operation to find survivors started drawing to a close.
Several large hydraulic excavators near the city of Antakya scraped at piles of masonry or knocked down the tops of teetering concrete buildings, footage showed on Monday, with clouds of dust rising from the rubble as slabs of concrete fell.
Workers in high-visibility jackets dotted the desolate expanse of what was once a residential area while a few clusters of onlookers watched from a safe distance.
Drone footage showed excavators removing rubble in Turkey's Hatay while demolishing partly collapsed buildings a week after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the country https://t.co/nJjUvNWnNk pic.twitter.com/1pvFtMLXLD
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 14, 2023
White Helmets declare seven days of mourning in Syria
The opposition Syrian Civil Defence group, known as the White Helmets, are observing a seven-day period of mourning in Syria.
“We will fly flags at half mast, starting today, Feb 13 to mourn the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria,” the group tweeted late on Monday.
White Helmets announce official mourning throughout Syria. We will fly flags at half mast for 7 days, starting today, Feb 13 to mourn the victims of the #earthquake in #Syria & #Turkey. We declare Feb 6 an annual national day of mourning to commemorate the memory of the victims. pic.twitter.com/W4WOMvOwqd
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 13, 2023
Search for survivors enters final hours
The desperate searches for earthquake survivors in Turkey and Syria are entering their final hours, with experts saying the window for rescues has nearly closed given the length of time that has passed and the severity of the building collapses.
Eduardo Reinoso Angulo, a professor at the Institute of Engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told The Associated Press news agency that the likelihood of finding people alive was “very, very small now”.
David Alexander, a professor of emergency planning and management at University College London, agreed, saying the odds were not very good to begin with. Many of the buildings were so poorly constructed that they collapsed into very small pieces, leaving very few spaces large enough for people to survive in, he told AP.
“If a frame building of some kind goes over, generally speaking we do find open spaces in a heap of rubble where we can tunnel in,“ Alexander said. “Looking at some of these photographs from Turkey and from Syria, there just aren’t the spaces.”
Winter conditions have also reduced the window for survival.
In the cold, the body shivers to keep warm, but that burns a lot of calories, meaning that people also deprived of food will die more quickly, said Dr Stephanie Lareau, a professor of emergency medicine at Virginia Tech in the United States.
UN chief welcomes al-Assad’s decision to open more border crossings
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed al-Assad’s decision to open the two crossing points of Bab al-Salam and Al Ra’ee to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid from Turkey to rebel-held parts of northwest Syria.
“As the toll of the 6 February earthquake continues to mount, delivering food, health, nutrition, protection, shelter, winter supplies and other life-saving supplies to all the millions of people affected is of the utmost urgency,” Guterres said in a statement.
“Opening these crossing points — along with facilitating humanitarian access, accelerating visa approvals and easing travel between hubs — will allow more aid to go in, faster,” he added.
Currently, the UN has only been allowed to deliver aid to the northwest Idlib area through a single crossing at Bab al-Hawa, at Syrian ally Russia’s insistence.