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Live updates: Türkiye arrests more contractors as quake toll nears 50,000

The death toll from the massive earthquake that hit parts of Türkiye and Syria on February 6 continues to rise as more bodies are retrieved from the rubble of demolished buildings. A magnitude 6.4 earthquake that struck the already battered province of Hatay this week damaged or demolished more buildings, compounding the devastation.

The death toll from the disaster in Türkiye reached 43,556, according to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

The twin quakes have left more than 5,800 people dead in Syria. In total, the fatalities from both countries have surpassed 49,300.

Here is how you can help the earthquake victims.

Following are the latest updates:

2015 GMT —  More than 170 people arrested in collapsed buildings probe

Some 171 people have been arrested in investigations into destroyed buildings in southern Türkiye after February 6 earthquakes, Justice Ninister Bekir Bozdag said.

“As part of the investigations on earthquakes, legal action has been taken against 583 suspects so far,” Bekir Bozdag told broadcaster CNN Turk, adding 171 of them were arrested and judicial control decision has been taken for 197 others.

“Of the 171 arrested persons, 78 are contractors, 64 are building supervisors, 11 are building owners,” he added.

Bozdag said those responsible, including contractors of the buildings, the owners, supervisors, workers, and master workmen were identified separately.

“Whoever has responsibility in a collapsed building, regardless of their duty, all of them will be weighed on the scales of justice in accordance of their responsibilities, and actions will be taken as ordered by our law, without hesitation,” he said.

2300 GMT — Malaysian rescue team returns home 

Sixty-five people from a Malaysian team that took part in search and rescue efforts in Türkiye’s earthquake-hit province of Gaziantep have left for home.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Sabah and Sarawak Affairs, Armizan Mohamad Ali, and Türkiye’s Ambassador to Malaysia Emir Salim Yuksel as well as Malaysian officials and Turkish citizens welcomed the team at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Speaking at a press conference held after the welcoming ceremony, Ali thanked the team for their work.

He said a Malaysian search and rescue team consisting of 140 people, carrying out their work under harsh weather conditions in the disaster area for 14 days since February 8, rescued five people from the wreckage.

1911 GMT — EU eases Syria sanctions to speed up quake aid

The European Union has temporarily eased sanctions on Syria to speed up aid deliveries to the country two weeks after the devastating earthquakes.

Aid organisations will no longer need to seek permission from EU member state governments before sending supplies and services to sanctioned entities in Syria, the European Council said in a statement.

The measure will last for six months and was taken “in view of the gravity of the humanitarian crisis in Syria exacerbated by the earthquake”.

1909 GMT – Türkiye provides more than 850,000 people with psychosocial support

Türkiye has provided psychosocial support services to more than 580,000 earthquake victims in the affected provinces, said Derya Yanik, Turkish Minister of Family and Social Services.

“So far, in our provinces affected by the earthquake, we have provided psychosocial support services to 583,751 citizens with 3,326 personnel,” Yanik said.

A further 274,933 citizens in provinces outside the earthquake zone also received support from 3,533 personnel, she added.

1819 GMT – Albania continues to send aid to quake-hit Türkiye

 Two additional trucks filled with aid materials have taken off from the Albanian capital of Tirana to quake-hit Türkiye.

Beds, heaters, tents, blankets and food items were collected for victims from donations organised by A Different Weekend Foundation. Five trucks with aid were sent earlier from Albania.

A team of 80 medical personnel and search and rescue specialists affiliated with the Albanian Ministry of Defence and the National Civil Protection Agency took part in the rescue operations in southern Türkiye.

1737 GMT – Egypt continues humanitarian aid to quake victims

Egypt has sent two helicopters loaded with humanitarian aid, including medicines and medical supplies, to the victims of the earthquakes that killed thousands in Türkiye.

The aid comes “in implementation of the directives of President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, to continue relief aid in solidarity with the Turkish people to mitigate the impact of the devastating earthquake,” an Egyptian military spokesman said in a statement.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi also made a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following the earthquakes during which he offered his condolences over the quake victims.

1734 GMT – Türkiye receives further support messages after quakes

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to receive messages of support and solidarity from world leaders after the devastating February 6 earthquakes.

Erdogan received Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara, where the premier offered condolences to Türkiye.

In a phone call with Erdogan, President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo and President of the Union of Comoros Azali Assoumani conveyed their condolences for those who lost their lives in the quakes and wished recovery to the injured, according to the Türkiye’s Communications Directorate.

1726 GMT – Turkish FM thanks Lebanon for support after earthquakes

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has thanked Lebanon for its “solidarity and support” after the massive earthquakes in southeastern Türkiye.

“Lebanon sent five search and rescue and medical teams. They sent a team of 120 people in total,” Cavusoglu said, speaking at a news conference with his Lebanese counterpart Abdallah Bou Habib, and Lebanese Public Works and Transport Minister Ali Hamie in the capital Ankara.

He added that 16 Lebanese people died in the earthquakes in Türkiye.

1617 GMT – Arrests over destroyed buildings continue in Türkiye

A number of suspects have been arrested in Türkiye over their alleged involvement in poorly constructed buildings that were destroyed in the powerful earthquakes that struck Türkiye earlier this month.

Yasin Akbas, the contractor of three building complexes in Adiyaman province that were destroyed and claimed over 100 lives, was arrested in Istanbul.

Some 22 people were also arrested as part of an investigation regarding some buildings destroyed in the earthquake in Gaziantep’s Nurdagi and Islahiye districts, Governor Davut Gul said on his social media accounts.

1614 GMT – Türkiye launches tool to reunite unaccompanied children with families

Children lost or separated from their families after the twin quakes in Türkiye can be reunited with loved ones through a new online tool launched by the Turkish Family and Social Services Ministry.

Families can access details about their children by entering information such as their ID number or full name on a search portal added to the ministry’s official website.

Since the massive earthquakes, the ministry has registered in its database 1,890 unaccompanied children who were found under the rubble. Out of them, 1,405 children were handed to their families. Some 1,784 were identified while 106 remain unidentified.

1553 GMT – Fresh magnitude 5.0 earthquake strikes Türkiye’s Hatay

A fresh magnitude 5.0 earthquake has hit Türkiye’s southern Hatay province, according to the country’s disaster management agency.

The quake hit at a depth of 9.76 kilometres at 1553 GMT and was centred in the Defne district of the province, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said.

Hatay Governor Rahmi Dogan said a few buildings, which were already damaged from the previous quakes, collapsed. There were no injuries or people trapped in the debris according to initial reports.

READ MORE: Man’s heartbreaking quest to catch last glimpse of his kin lost in rubble

1502 GMT – UN will continue to help quake-hit Türkiye

The UN will continue to help Türkiye as long as the country needs, following the twin earthquakes, UN Resident Coordinator in Türkiye Alvaro Rodriguez has said.

“Türkiye is very important as a founding member of the United Nations. We have been here always and, we will continue to be here as long as Türkiye nee ds us,” Rodriguez told Anadolu Agency.

He visited the tent city established in the centre of Kahramanmaras, the epicentre of the earthquakes, and talked to victims and medical staff on the ground, noting that the geographical scale of earthquakes is “unprecedented”.

1455 MGT – Jordan sends humanitarian aid to quake-hit Syria

Jordan has dispatched 14 more aid trucks loaded with medicines, foodstuffs, blankets and drinking water to neighbouring Syria following the February 6 earthquakes.

The humanitarian aid prepared by the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization was delivered to the quake-hit areas in Syria via the Jaber-Nassib border crossing, Jordanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Seven aid trucks were delivered to the High Relief Commission in Syria, while the remaining trucks were given to UN agencies operating in the country.

1446 GMT – UN to expand Syria quake aid, but further scale-up needed

 The United Nations will scale up aid deliveries to Syria’s rebel-held northwest in the coming days to help millions affected by this month’s catastrophic earthquake, a senior UN official has said.

But Muhannad Hadi said the planned increase in aid trucks to 40 per day was still inadequate for tackling the region’s humanitarian crisis, with medical supplies to combat disease, as well as more food and temporary shelters, urgently needed.

The northwest, which is controlled by opposition groups at war with Syria’s Bashar al Assad and where 90 percent of the 4 million-plus population were already depending on aid to meet basic needs, was the worst hit in Syria.

1441 GMT – 80% of damage assessment completed in Türkiye’s quake zone

Authorities have completed 80 percent of damage assessment in the earthquake zone in southern Türkiye, the country’s urbanisation minister said.

“The rest will be completed quickly in the coming days,” Murat Kurum, environment, urbanisation and climate change minister, told Anadolu Agency’s Editors’ Desk in the quake-hit Adiyaman province.

A total of 7,300 personnel are working to evaluate the damage caused by the twin quakes which jolted more than a dozen provinces, he said, adding that destruction or damage was reported in around 164,000 buildings and 518,000 individual units.

1430 GMT – Turkish first lady thanks African countries for support

Turkish First Lady Emine Erdogan has thanked the first ladies of African countries for their support after the February 6 earthquakes.

“The First Lady of Nigeria and the President of AFLPM (African First Ladies Peace Mission) Aisha Muhammadu Buhari’s support for our disaster-stricken citizens is a priceless manifestation of our sisterhood.

“I’d like to thank all the first ladies of African countries, particularly my friend Aisha, for their support,” Erdogan said on Twitter.

1329 GMT — Turkish FM meets OIC secretary general

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Hissein Brahim Taha in the capital Ankara.

In a Twitter post, Cavusoglu said he thanked Taha for showing solidarity with Türkiye after the Feb. 6 twin earthquakes that claimed lives of more than 43,500 people.

The Turkish foreign minister also welcomed Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory Minister Muhammad Musa Bello and thanked him for “his solidarity visit after earthquake.” 

Cavusoglu separately spoke over the phone with Mirjana Spoljaric, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to Turkish diplomatic sources.

Spoljaric conveyed her condolences over the loss of lives in the quakes.

OIC urges Islamic bloc to mobilise support for quake-hit Türkiye 

Türkiye says 300,000 tents put up, 100,000 containers to be built

Türkiye has stepped up plans to house victims of the devastating earthquake which struck its border region with Syria, the interior minister has said, as the combined death toll in the two countries crept towards 50,000.

Suleyman Soylu said 313,000 tents had been erected, with 100,000 container homes to be installed in the disaster zone which stretches for hundreds of kilometres inland from the Turkish and Syrian Mediterranean coast.

The number of people killed in Türkiye has risen to 43,556, Soylu said, while in Syria the death toll was close to 6,000. The United Nations said more than 4,500 were killed in Syria’s rebel-held northwest, and the Syrian government said 1,414 people died in the area under its control.

Soylu said more than 600,000 apartments and 150,000 commercial premises had suffered at least moderate damage.

“Our cities will be built in the right places, our children will live in stronger cities. We know what kind of test we are facing, and we will come out of this stronger,” he told state broadcaster TRT Haber.

1233 GMT —  EBRD, employees raise over $795K for quake victims

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and its staff have pledged to donate $795,000 (€750,000) for earthquake victims in southeastern Türkiye.

A group of EBRD employees launched the ongoing community initiative to help the region home to over 13 million people and hit by back-to-back quakes earlier this month.

The fundraiser has already reached over $266,242 (€250,000) with the donation page still open as of Thursday. According to information on the donation page, the EBRD Community Initiative vowed to donate double the amount given by staff up to a limit of €500,000 from the Community Special Fund, for a total of over €750,000.

1231 GMT —  Qatari Red Crescent ready for reconstruction of quake-hit areas

Mohamed Salah, a senior official of the Qatar Red Crescent, said they are seeking funding to initiate reconstruction activity in the earthquake-hit zone of Türkiye and Syria.

In an interview with Anadolu, Salah stressed the need for concerted efforts by the international community to mitigate the effects of the earthquake that occurred in Türkiye and northern Syria.

He said: “We will strive with all our partners to have a real contribution to reduce the scale of the disaster,” adding “it communicated directly with the Turkish Red Crescent and the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) to coordinate aid work.”

The Qatar Red Crescent also allocated $1 million from the Disaster Response Fund for urgent relief to those affected by the earthquakes in the two countries.

1144 GMT —  UN migration office in Kenya donates 280 tonnes of relief supplies

The UN migration office in Kenya has announced that it had sent 280 tonnes of humanitarian and relief supplies to help thousands of people affected by the devastating earthquakes that hit Türkiye and Syria.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), East and Horn of Africa regional office in Nairobi provided the donation, which departed the Kenyan capital on three cargo planes from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Wednesday.

“At IOM, we are committed to ensuring that much-needed humanitarian aid reaches those most in need in a timely manner,” Deputy Regional Director Justin MacDermott said.

1140 GMT —  Turkish envoy thanks South Korean rescuers for efforts in quake-hit areas

Türkiye’s ambassador to Seoul has thanked South Korean rescue workers for their life-saving efforts in earthquake-hit areas of Türkiye.

In an event in Seoul, Murat Tamer praised the South Korean teams and expressed his gratitude, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

The event was attended by Foreign Minister Park Jin and the Korea Disaster Relief Team that returned last week after rescuing eight quake survivors in Türkiye.

“Many countries have offered humanitarian assistance to Türkiye, but I believe what South Korea extended to us was not merely humanitarian aid but the wholehearted support one would give to their own brother or family,” the agency quoted Tamer as saying.

1134 GMT —  Indonesian humanitarian aid arrives in quake-hit Türkiye

An Indonesian aircraft loaded with humanitarian aid arrived in the quake-hit southern Adana province of Türkiye, according to Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry.

Murat Salim Esenli, a member of the Turkish Foreign Policy Advisory Council, welcomed the humanitarian assistance and the arrival of representatives from the Indonesian government at Adana Sakirpasa Airport.

Speaking to the press at the airport, Indonesia’s Human Development and Cultural Affairs Minister Muhadjir Effendy, expressed his condolences for the government and people of Türkiye, especially Turkish earthquake victims.

The minister also underlined that his government would continue to provide support in various forms.

Another emergency aid shipment heads to Türkiye from India: envoy

0525 GMT — President Erdogan and First Lady visit quake victims in Ankara

Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and First Lady Emine Erdogan have visited earthquake survivors who were transferred to various hospitals around the Turkish capital of Ankara from the quake-hit southeastern provinces.

0444 GMT — Istanbul university releases initial analysis of twin quakes that hit southeastern Türkiye

Scientists from Istanbul Technical University (ITU) have published a preliminary investigation report on the February 6 twin earthquakes that hit southeastern Türkiye, saying that in one area near the epicentre of the quake, the ground moved as much as 4.7 metres. 

The ITU scientists also said that they measured two separate quakes on February 6 at magnitudes 7.7 and 7.6 with their epicentres in Pazarcik and Elbistan districts of Kahramanmaras province respectively.

ITU said it will release another report of the disaster once a complete analysis is made.

For our live updates from Wednesday (February 22), click here

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