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Live updates: Türkiye on edge amid new tremors as death toll tops 43,000

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Demolition teams are clearing mounds of rubble from the devastating February 6 earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, as emergency responders scramble to shelter survivors — who were traumatised anew by Monday’s magnitude 6.4 earthquake in the already badly battered province of Hatay.

Meanwhile, Turkish officials said the death toll from February 6 twin quakes climbed to 43,556. An additional six fatalities and 562 injuries were reported from Monday’s earthquake in Hatay. Two deaths and several injuries were also reported in Syria.

The reported toll in Syria is 5,814, which has been unchanged for days. In all, death toll from disasters in both countries has reached 49,370. 

Here is how you can help the earthquake victims.

Following are the latest updates:

Türkiye quakes generated up to 210 million tonnes of rubble — UNDP

The United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] has said it plans to support Türkiye in the removal of rubble and the management of the debris from the earthquake’s devastation.

The UN agency said on Wednesday it estimates that the disaster has generated between 116 million and 210 million tonnes of rubble.

It estimated an area at least 30 kilometres by 30 kilometres with debris piled three metres high would be needed to contain it all.

“This makes this clearly the largest earthquake disaster in Türkiye’s history and perhaps the largest natural disaster the country has ever faced,” said Louisa Vinton, UNDP’s Türkiye Resident Representative.

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2000 GMT — Death toll from twin quakes climbs

The death toll from the powerful February 6 earthquakes in southern Türkiye has risen to 43,556, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said late on Wednesday.

Soylu made the remarks during a live broadcast with the TRT Haber TV channel in Hatay, one of the 11 provinces that were hit by the quakes.

“This is one of the biggest earthquakes in the world,” he said.

The minister said it required a certain period of time to respond when faced with 26,000 collapsed homes during the first hours, and the earthquakes hit an area covering 110,000 square kilometres.

“This is the size of three Netherlands,” he added.

1855 GMT — Djibouti sends medical supplies to quake-hit Türkiye

Medical equipment, medicines, blankets and heaters provided by companies in Djibouti as well as medical devices donated by Djibouti’s Health Ministry were sent to Türkiye with the initiatives of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency Djibouti Programme Coordination Office.

Previously Djibouti had donated $1 million in cash to AFAD as well as shelter, hygiene and medical supplies for the earthquake victims in southern Türkiye.

1845 GMT — Nineteen countries set up 22 field hospitals in Türkiye’s quake zone

A total of 90,015 tents, 167 living containers and 999 mobile hygiene units have been brought to Türkiye with the coordination of foreign representatives, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

As a part of aid in kind, 1,344,234 blankets, 196,538 sleeping bags, 74,750 beds, 26,622 generators, 5,722 tonnes of clothing, 3,065 tons of hygienic medical supplies and 5,678 tons of food reached Türkiye, it said.

1805 GMT — Donors’ conference for Türkiye to be ‘unprecedented effort’ by int’l community: EU commissioner

An international donors conference, which is expected to be held in Brussels in March, is going to be an “unprecedented effort from the international community to help and to chip in substantially” to Türkiye’s reconstruction efforts in the wake of deadly earthquakes earlier this month, said the EU commissioner for neighbourhood and enlargement.

EU Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said: “We came here today, first of all, to express our sympathies with the victims, express our condolences for those who have lost loved ones and to express that we’re standing by Türkiye and we are standing by the people of Türkiye.”

Citing his meetings with Turkish officials in Ankara, Varhelyi said the scale of the damage caused by the two strong earthquakes is “much, much bigger” than what one would “read in the press.”

“We expect a final assessment coming, the rough final assessment coming in weeks because, of course, we want to organize donors’ conference in the knowledge of this assessment,” he said.

1740 GMT —  Indonesia stands by Türkiye, Turkish people in this hour of need: minister

“We are together with them and what they (Turkish people) feel is also (what) we feel,” Indonesia’s Human Development and Cultural Affairs Minister Muhadjir Effendy said.

Effendy said the disaster will make Türkiye and its people come out stronger, and urged all international organizations to extend the necessary help to victims of the seismic catastrophe since “it’s about humanity.”

The minister also handed over the fourth batch of humanitarian aid supplies from Indonesia to the Turkish people.

According to Effendy, Indonesia has deployed in Türkiye its largest humanitarian mission to a country in its history, involving more than 250 personnel, five humanitarian flights, more than 110 tonnes of humanitarian goods, 50 containers of instant food supply, one field hospital and two public kitchens serving 24 hours a day.

1700 GMT — Quake victims to start moving to container cities in Adiyaman

Victims will start moving to container cities (container homes placed in large spaces) in Adiyaman, the Turkish transport and infrastructure minister has said.

“We have prepared the infrastructure for most of the container homes,” Adil Karaismailoglu said.

“Mobility will begin from tomorrow.”

In the first stage 15,000 homes will be established, he said, adding that the government is also working on constructing prefabricated homes.

1615 GMT — Zenit to face Fenerbahce in charity match to help earthquake victims

“Zenit will play Fenerbahce in a charity match to aid victims of the Turkish earthquake,” the Russian club said in a statement, adding that the match will be held in Istanbul’s Ulker Stadium on March 23.

All proceeds from the game will go to help the victims and survivors of the devastating earthquakes that recently occurred in Türkiye, it added.

1450 GMT — Turkish president, first lady visit earthquake survivors at Ankara hospital

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Emine Erdogan visited the Etlik City Hospital, Türkiye’s Communications Directorate said.

“Our only consolation is to see that our children are in good health, whose treatment continues at Ankara University Cebeci Hospital and Etlik City Hospital,” the first lady said on Twitter, sharing photos from the hospital visit.

“I sincerely believe that we will overcome the difficulties together with the strength of unity,” she added.

1445 GMT — Tunisian singer to hold benefit concert for quake victims in Türkiye, Syria

Tunisian singer Lotfi Bouchnak will hold a benefit concert for the victims of two deadly earthquakes.

“Bouchnak will perform on Feb. 28 at the Tunisian Culture Palace for our brothers affected by the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria,” the Opera Theatre of Tunis said in a statement.

According to the statement, the proceeds of the “Double Corde II” concert performed by the Tunis Symphony Orchestra Academy on Feb.13 were donated to the quake victims in Türkiye and Syria.

Tunisia sent a 41-strong rescue team and more than 60 tonnes of humanitarian aid supplies to Türkiye and Syria following the earthquakes.

1410 GMT — Egyptian aid ship arrives at Mersin port

An Egyptian ship loaded with humanitarian aid arrived at Mersin port for the victims of two deadly earthquakes.

The Navy vessel carries 650 tons of aid for the quake victims, including tents, beds, covers, heaters, foodstuff and medical and hygiene supplies.

“Egypt stands in solidarity with Türkiye in these hard times,” Egyptian Charge d’Affaires, Amr El Hamamy, said.

“This ship is an Egyptian [message] of love to the Turkish people,” he said.

1345 GMT — Kuwait sends humanitarian aid to Türkiye, Syria

Maha Al Barjas, head of the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society, said a convoy of 12 trucks loaded with relief and medical materials moved to Türkiye and northern Syria.

“The convoy includes blankets, tents, electrical appliances and prefabricated homes,” Barjas said.

“This aid convoy is part of assistance from the Kuwaiti people to the peoples of Türkiye and Syria,” she added.

Following the quake disaster, the Kuwaiti government dispatched rescue teams to Türkiye to take part in searching for survivors. The Gulf country also pledged $30 million in aid to both Türkiye and Syria.

1305 GMT — Türkiye thanks int’l community for support, solidarity

Türkiye’s foreign minister expressed gratitude to the EU and international community for the support and solidarity given in the wake of deadly earthquakes earlier this month.

The EU has shown great solidarity with Türkiye during such a difficult period, Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint press conference in the capital Ankara with EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi and Johan Forssell, the international development minister of Sweden, currently the EU’s term president.

Underlining that Türkiye has benefitted from EU solidarity funds and its Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) as a candidate country, Cavusoglu said there had been interruptions in IPA funds before and that such interruptions were not beneficial.

For his part, EU Commissioner Varhelyi conveyed his condolences over the deadly earthquakes and said they were in Türkiye to help. “We care because we are friends, because we are allies and I think this cannot be underlined strong enough.”
“My generation for sure has not seen such a devastating earthquake on the planet and this is why the human suffering is immense,” he stressed.

1210 GMT — 160 suspects remanded in Türkiye over collapse of buildings 

Turkish prosecutors charged 564 suspects as part of the investigation on collapsed buildings or flouting of construction codes, judicial sources said.

At least 175 suspects were released under judicial control, which means they will regularly have to report to their nearest police station.

In addition, arrest warrants were issued for 71 suspects and detention orders were issued for 61 others.

While 18 people are still in custody by the order of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, according to the sources, 11 other suspects have died. Six suspects are abroad, the sources added.

1021 GMT — Türkiye thanks Algeria for aid to earthquake victims

Turkish Ambassador to Algeria Mahinur Ozdemir Goktas thanked Algeria for helping the victims of the two deadly earthquakes in Tükiye.

“I thanked the Algerian minister for his country’s solidarity with Tükiye and support for those affected by the earthquakes,” the diplomat said during a meeting with Algerian Interior Minister Ibrahim Murad.

The Turkish envoy said Algeria was at the forefront of countries providing aid to Tükiye in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes.

For his part, the Algerian minister said his country’s efforts on behalf of earthquake victims in Tükiye were a “duty of brotherhood”.

1013 GMT — UAE launches new phase of support for quake victims in Türkiye, Syria

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has launched a new phase of support for the victims of the Feb. 6 earthquake disaster in Türkiye and Syria.

In a statement, the UAE’s Joint Operations Command said the new phase of Operation Chivalrous Knight 2 focuses on the recovery and rehabilitation in “support of those affected by the earthquake in Syria and Türkiye.”

According to the statement, the Command plans to “mobilise humanitarian, food, and medical assistance while continuing operations through the existing humanitarian air bridge.”

The state-run news agency WAM said the Emirati fields hospitals in Islahiye in Gaziantep city and Reyhanli district in Hatay in southern Türkiye will continue their operations.

According to WAM, the UAE dispatched 134-strong rescue teams to Türkiye and Syria, flew 136 flights and dispatched 3,772 tonnes of food and medical supplies.

0844 GMT —  Germany pledges further $53M euros aid for quake victims

Germany will double its relief aid in Türkiye and Syria with an additional 50 million euros ($53 million) for victims of the deadly earthquake, according to two ministers.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Germany wants “to make it clear that we, as a global community, see this catastrophe and we support the population”.

Baerbock made the announcement after visiting the earthquake-hit southeastern region of Türkiye, along with German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.

Of the new aid, the equivalent of $35 million will go to Türkiye and $18 million to northern Syria, bringing Germany’s contribution to 108 million euros ($115 million) in the region hit by a deadly earthquake which has killed more than 48,000.

0617 GMT — Türkiye bans layoffs, offers salary support in earthquake zone

Türkiye has launched a temporary wage support scheme and banned layoffs in 11 provinces to protect workers and businesses from the financial impact of the massive earthquakes that hit the south of the country earlier this month.

The moves are part of the Turkish government’s steps to minimise the impact of the worst earthquake in modern Turkish history that left tens of thousands dead.

Employers whose workplaces were “heavily or moderately damaged” would benefit from support to partially cover wages of workers whose hours had been cut, the country’s Official Gazette said on Wednesday.

A layoff ban was also introduced in 11 earthquake-hit provinces covered by a state of emergency.

Turkish Parliament imposed a state of emergency for three months on February 7, after a request by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

0450 GMT — Iranian Turks rush to help earthquake victims in Türkiye

Iranian Turks living in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province have collected relief materials for those affected by the February 6 earthquakes in Türkiye, according to Anadolu news agency.

Residents from two villages in the region delivered the aid to Türkiye’s Consulate General in Urmia.

In a Twitter post, the Turkish Consulate General in Urmia thanked the villagers and said the aid would be delivered to the earthquake zones as soon as possible.

Aid provided by the Iranian people had previously been sent to the earthquake zones through Türkiye’s Embassy in Tehran and the Consulate General in Tabriz.

For our live updates from Tuesday (February 21),
click here

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