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Live updates: New magnitude 6.4 earthquake rocks Türkiye’s Hatay province

A new magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck Türkiye’s Hatay province, the country’s disaster management agency has said.

The quake centred in the Defne district of the province at 1704GMT (2004 local time), the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said.

Three aftershocks of magnitude 5.8, 3.9 and 4.5 centred at the Samandag area followed the initial tremor, AFAD said.

New quakes are reported two weeks after the February 6 devastating earthquakes.

As of Monday, February 20 – exactly two weeks since the disaster, the death toll in Türkiye stands at 41,156. The toll in Syria has reached 5,814, taking the combined death toll in both countries close to 47,000. 

Here is how you can help the earthquake victims.

Following are the latest updates:

Monday, February 20, 2023

2001 GMT — At least three die in latest quake

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has said that at least three people have lost their lives following two fresh earthquakes in southern Hatay province.

He said 213 people have also been injured.

1900 GMT — Warning for risk of a rise in sea level in Türkiye lifted

Warning for risk of a rise in sea level lifted by disaster management agency AFAD, Kandilli Earthquake Research Institute, Turkish Vice President Oktay said.

1853 GMT — Eight people injured in Türkiye, six in Syria

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said at least eight people were injured after recent earthquakes in Hatay province.

Syrian regime’s state news agency, SANA, reported that six people have been injured in Aleppo from falling debris.

1850 GMT — 
Priority is to help thousands affected by quakes in Türkiye, Syria: EU

The meeting of EU foreign ministers started “with a minute of silence to pay tribute to the almost 40,000 victims of the devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at a news conference.

“The priority of the European Union and its member states is to help the hundreds of thousands of people affected in both countries,” he said.
Borrell reassured the Turkish and Syrian people of the bloc’s “unwavering solidarity,” stressing that the EU will seek to fulfill “all the needs that we can.” 

1715 GMT — 6.4 magnitude earthquake strikes Türkiye’s southern Hatay province

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake hits Türkiye’s southern Hatay province, says disaster agency AFAD, some two weeks after major quakes in the region.

AFAD issued warnings urging citizens to avoid coastal areas as a precaution against the risk of a rise in the sea level, which could reach up to 50 centimetres. 

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay called on citizens in the region to stay away from damaged buildings as authorities scan the affected areas. 

Some buildings collapsed after the earthquakes, which were also felt in Syria, Jordan, Israel and Egypt. 

Türkiye’s Communications Directorate said state institutions working in coordination, and damage assessment is being carried out after two more earthquakes hit Hatay province.

1447 GMT — ‘They treated us very well’: Armenian team leader hails treatment of rescuers by Türkiye

“They treated us very well. They always thanked us for coming and supporting and helping us,” Garik Aghramanyan told a press conference in the Armenian capital Yerevan. 

The 28-member team, which arrived on February 8, has returned home as rescue operations are coming to a close.

“From the second we got off the plane, we only heard words of gratitude and thanks,” he added.

Aghramanyan said his team rescued three people from the rubble in Adiyaman, one of the 11 provinces struck by the quakes that have caused widespread death and destruction.

1445 GMT — Türkiye urges OSCE reforms to develop cooperation in natural disasters among member states

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) can be a platform for developing cooperation between member states in natural disasters, said the Turkish foreign minister.

The 57-member OSCE is one of the largest organizations after the UN in terms of the number of member states, Mevlut Cavusoglu told a joint press conference with OSCE Chairman-in-Office and North Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani and OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid.

The organisation is based on a comprehensive understanding of security, and it could also be a platform for the development of cooperation between member states in natural disasters, he said.

Saying that creating such a platform would be “highly beneficial,” Cavusoglu said Türkiye would contribute and work for this.

Citing North Macedonia’s term presidency motto “It’s About People,” he said: “This actually coincides with our country’s entrepreneurial and humanitarian foreign policy.”

1440 GMT — Qatar prepares to send 1,400 mobile homes to Türkiye

“A new shipment of 1,400 mobile homes will be loaded on six ships as of today,” Turkish Ambassador in Doha, Mustafa Goksu, said.

“The Turkish Embassy is cooperating with the Qatar Fund for Development to deliver the entire mobile homes as soon as possible,” he said.

Qatar has pledged 10,000 mobile homes to the victims of the violent earthquakes that struck Türkiye and Syria.

“The number of Qatari aircraft carrying urgent aid supplies to Türkiye has so far reached 40,” the Turkish diplomat said.

1435 GMT — Türkiye will start construction of houses in quake-hit areas soon: Erdogan

Turkish President Erdogan has said that the construction of nearly 200,000 houses for quake victims will start in March in 11 provinces.

Turkish provinces Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, Sanliurfa, and Elazig – were affected by the magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes.

1430 GMT — EU reaffirms commitment to help earthquake victims in Türkiye, Syria

Representatives from EU member states and Türkiye held a meeting in the framework of the Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) to assess the situation after the earthquakes, the Swedish presidency of the Council of the European Union said in a statement.

With an aim to coordinate relief efforts, the parties reviewed the immediate needs and so-called “bottlenecks,” eventual factors that may slow down the work, the document explained.

EU countries “remain committed to continuing providing coordinated assistance to those affected by the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria, notably via the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism and by means of humanitarian assistance,” it added.

1345 GMT — Turkish envoy honours Austrian rescue team for efforts

Speaking at a ceremony in Vienna to give medals to members of the Austrian army’s rescue mission for their efforts in Türkiye, Ambassador Ozan Ceyhun called the team members heroes.

Stressing that Turkish people now see them as close friends, he said “they have eased our suffering in these difficult days.”

Austrian Defense Minister Kladuia Tanner, for his part, also expressed respect for the team that rose to the occasion.

“We can be sure that there were moments for them when they had to push their limits,” she said.

1300 GMT — Egypt sends aid ship to quake victims in Syria

A statement by the Egyptian Presidency said a ship from the Egyptian Navy loaded with hundreds of tons of relief aid arrived in Latakia for the quake victims in Syria.

The shipment was delivered “in solidarity with Syria and its brotherly people and in support of [Syria] in this painful humanitarian plight,” the statement said.

Syrian regime’s news agency SANA said the Egyptian shipment included around 500 tons of aid.

The aid will be handed over to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to be distributed to regions that were harmed by the earthquake, the broadcaster said.

1230 GMT — Jordan sends relief plane to Türkiye

The cargo plane arrived at the Kahramanmaras airport, southern Türkiye, and according to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, the plane had 12 tonnes of relief and medical aid.

Turkish Ambassador to Amman Erdem Ozan thanked Jordan for standing with Türkiye.

He added that the Turkish institutions in Jordan, including the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency and Yunus Emre Institute, managed to gather 33.6 tons of basic needs to be sent to affected people in coordination with the Jordanian Hashemite Charity.

Since the second day of the earthquake disaster, Jordan has sent to Türkiye and Syria 12 aid cargo planes, 28 relief trucks, 10 ambulances, and 10,000 tents.

1220 GMT — World’s first cave church in Hatay, Türkiye still intact after major quakes

Although many historically sacred places were reduced to rubble in powerful earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye early this month, miraculously, the world’s first cave church in Hatay remains largely intact.

Carved into the side of Mount Staurin in the Antakya region of the Apostle Peter’s early ministry, around 38-39 AD, the Saint Pierre cave church is recognized as the world’s very first cathedral, according to UNESCO.

The church spans some 9.5 metres wide, 13 metres long, and seven metres high, and in 2011 was added to UNESCO’s Tentative World Heritage List.

1210 GMT — Qatar sends 3 additional planes of aid to Türkiye

“To alleviate the sufferings of earthquake victims, Qatar’s Emiri Air Force allocated additional 3 C-17 aircraft to transfer 90 toilets and 25 generators,” the Turkish Embassy in Doha said.

“We will never forget the solidarity of Qatar in these challenging times,” it added.

In addition, humanitarian aid including emergency supplies such as sleeping bags and winter tents, donated by Qatar Charity, was also sent to Türkiye to be delivered to the earthquake victims, the embassy also said.

1150 GMT — EU to hold donor conference on March 16 to help Türkiye, Syria

The EU donor conference to help earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria will take place on March 16, the Swedish foreign minister announced.

Tobias Billstrom said the donor conference “is going to be held here in Brussels on March 16.”

The event is organised by the European Commission and the Swedish government that assumed the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1.

1050 GMT — Search and rescue efforts in some parts of Hatay to continue

Yunus Sezer, head of the Turkish disaster management agency, AFAD, has announced that search and rescue efforts will continue in at least 15 buildings that collapsed in the province of Hatay. 

1045 GMT — Earthquake death toll rises to 41,156

Turkish disaster management agency, AFAD, reported that the death toll from the powerful earthquakes in southern Türkiye has rised to 41,156.

The death toll in neighbouring Syria has remained unchanged for days at 5,814, taking the combined death toll in both countries close to the 47,000 mark.

1015 GMT — Turkish, Japanese researchers to carry out joint earthquake study

Gebze Technical University (GTU) and Japan’s Kagawa University have signed an agreement to conduct joint research on the eastern Marmara section of the North Anatolian Fault Line following the February 6 earthquakes.

The agreement, signed by GTU Prof. Dr. Haci Ali Mantar and Kagawa University Prof. Dr. Yoshiyuki Kaneda, allows researchers from both institutions to conduct extensive study of the North Anatolian Fault Line’s movement.

The research also covers how societies can become more resilient to major earthquakes. 

0910 GMT — Akar rejects allegations that Turkish soldiers responded late to quake victims

Turkish National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar denied allegations that Turkish soldiers were late in responding to those trapped under the rubble.

“These biased allegations that do not reflect the truth cannot be explained with good faith,” Akar said.

“The elements of the National Defense Ministry and the Turkish Armed Forces mobilised from the very first moment with their soldiers, civilians, workers and technical personnel, and rushed to the side of those who needed help,” Akar said following a meeting in southern Hatay province.

0840 GMT — Hundreds of thousands of students return to school after earthquake disruption

Students from Konya, Karaman, Aksaray and Afyonkarahisar resumed their studies. 

In Konya along, at least 543,379 students and 35,570 teachers from 2,836 schools resumed classes.

Over 300,000 students from the other areas also resumed classes, while more than 6,600 were transferred to new schools after they were displaced by the quake. 

0755 GMT — Blinken vows support for Türkiye quake victims ‘for as long as it takes’

Blinken made the statement during a press conference as he visited the Turkish capital for meetings top officials in Türkiye.

During the same press conference, Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said the two nations should not wait for another disaster to improve ties, urging Washington DC to take concrete, sincere steps to improve Türkiye-US relations. 

On Sunday, the top US diplomat also visited the earthquake region of Türkiye and announced an additional $100 million in aid for earthquake recovery.

0725 GMT — US fundraiser held for earthquake victims in Türkiye and Syria

A fundraising concert was held in the US state of Maryland for the victims of the earthquakes that hit Türkiye and Syria.

 At the event, renowned Turkish artist Osman Kivrak and American University lecturer played the viola for the guests, many of whom signed checks and donated cash for the victims of the disaster.

The event in Maryland was organised by the Washington Turkish-American Association.

0600 GMT  South Korean rescue workers head home 

South Korean search and rescue team have arrived at Gaziantep Airport, where they are scheduled to depart back to their home country.

Seoul sent a 120-member search and rescue team to Türkiye immediately after the February 6 disaster.

The two nations share a long history of diplomatic relations, with Ankara sending 21,212 Turkish soldiers to fight in the Korean War in the 1950s. A total of 966 Turkish soldiers were killed in that conflict.

To read Sunday’s updates please click here

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