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Live updates: Death toll rises as UN appeals for $1B aid for Türkiye

Thursday, February 16, 2023

The United Nations has launched an appeal for $1 billion to help victims in Türkiye of last week’s devastating earthquakes that killed thousands of people and left millions more in desperate need of aid.

On the disaster’s11th day, the death toll in Türkiye rose to 38,044, making it the deadliest disaster in the country in 100 years. 

The toll in Syria has reached 5,814, taking the combined death toll in both countries to 43,858. 

Here is how you can help the earthquake victims.

Following are the latest updates:

2350 GMT — Boy among three survivors pulled alive 260 hours after Türkiye quakes

Eleven days into the quake — one of the deadliest in the past 100 years — rescuers have pulled a 12-year-old boy and two men out of the rubble, more than 260 hours of the earthquakes that have so far left over 43,000 people dead in Türkiye and neighbouring Syria.

The boy was rescued from the rubble of a building in the central Antakya city of Hatay province at 260th hour of the first earthquake that hit Türkiye on February 6 morning, local media reported late on Thursday.

Osman Halebiye, a foreign national, was pulled from the ruins of Buket Apartment in Ekinci district.

Two more people were pulled alive from the rubble in the same province but such rescues have become increasingly rare.

Both men, Mehmet Ali Sakiroglu, 26, and Mustafa Avci, 34, were rescued from the rubble of a building in Antakya district at 261st hour of the first 7.7 magnitute quake.

Delighted relatives of the injured rushed to hospital where the two men are being treated.

👉 More here

Türkiye tightens noose around building contractors over ‘earthquake crimes’

More contractors and others allegedly responsible for poorly constructed buildings that collapsed and caused heavy mass casualties in last week’s devastating earthquakes have been detained across Türkiye, sources said.

In southern Kahramanmaras province’s Turkoglu district, three people were detained over buildings that collapsed in February 6 twin quakes, which have killed more than 38,000 people and left 108,000 others injured, Anadolu Agency reported. 

Another five contractors were detained in Istanbul over “killing by negligence” under the coordination of the Kahramanmaras Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Two more people suspected of being involved in defective construction work were detained in southeastern Osmaniye province.

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2300 GMT — Two men found alive in Hatay province

Two men Mehmet Ali Sakiroglu, 26, and Mustafa Avci, 34, have been rescued from rubble of a building in Odabası district of Hatay province, 261 hours after the first earthquake hit Türkiye, local media reported. 

‘We had prepared her grave’: Woman pulled alive from Türkiye quake debris

In yet another miraculous rescue, a woman has been pulled alive from the rubble of her apartment building on the 11th day of the twin earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye. 

Neslihan Kilic, 42, was pulled from the rubble in central Kahramanmaras province on Thursday — after 257 hours of torment — and later moved to hospital.

“We had prepared her grave and we asked the rescue workers to stop digging as we feared they would damage the remaining corpses under the rubble.

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2123 GMT — Boy pulled alive in another miracle rescue operation

Rescuers have pull a 12-year-old boy alive from rubble of a building in central Antakya district of Hatay province, at the 260th hour of the first earthquake that struck southern Türkiye, Anadolu Agency reported late on Thursday.

Search and rescue teams working on the wreckage of Buket Apartment in Ekinci District reached Osman Halebiye, a foreign national, in a major operation. The child was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Zonguldak miners tell of joy, fear in Türkiye quake rescues 

Turkish miners who dug survivors out of collapsed buildings after a massive earthquake have said hearing voices of people beneath the rubble brought both joy that someone was still alive and worry that they would not reach them in time to save them.

“There is no other joy than hearing the voice of a survivor. It is nothing I can explain,” said Cemil Dedeoglu, 37. 

“There is no other happiness than taking that person out and handing them over to their families. I mean, I wish we could get everyone out without any injuries.”

But they said hearing an appeal for help beneath a collapsed building was also tempered with concern about getting them out quickly and without further injury, when survivors were often buried in small spaces and under tonnes of broken concrete.

“It is our hardest moment because we want to get them out as soon as possible,” said Musab Basan, 39.

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1905 GMT — Woman rescued from rubble more than 10 days after quakes 

In yet another miraculous rescue, a woman was found alive more than 10 days or 257 hours after the twin earthquakes in southeastern Türkiye.

Forty-two-year-old Neslihan Kilic was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building in central Kahramanmaras province. 

She was later moved to the hospital.

👉 More here

1840 GMT — Turkish boxer puts her WBC title belt at auction for quake victims

Seren Ay Cetin, a Turkish female boxer who won the 2022 World Boxing Council (WBC) title, is selling her championship belt to help earthquake victims in Türkiye.

Seren Ay Cetin, 26, said she put her WBC Silver Bantamweight title belt at auction to sell it for at least 1 million Turkish liras or $53,000, and the proceeds will go to a Turkish non-governmental organisation.

Cetin was the first female Turkish boxer to win a WBC title after defeating Austria’s Eva Voraberger, a two-time WBC world champion, in a fight held last May in Istanbul.

1750 GMT — British field hospital healing wounds of quake victims in southern Türkiye

A British medical team in the 24-bed field hospital, which was opened in the courtyard of a severely damaged public hospital in Turkoglu district, is providing medical treatment in coordination with the health facility of the Turkish National Medical Rescue Team from Sivas province.

“We are here to help the Turkish authorities and we are taking guidance from the Turkish authorities as to what medical care they want us to provide,” specialist nurse Lt. Katy Hook, who is in charge of the hospital, said.

She added that the British medical team is more than “willing to take over some of the load they (Turkish authorities) are currently feeling in the hospitals.”

On the scale of the devastation, Hook said: “I’ve never seen anything like this before. It is horrendous.”

1745 GMT — Türkiye welcomes NATO’s support after deadly quakes: Defense chief

National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar hailed NATO’s support after last week’s devastating earthquakes in southern Türkiye.

“The earthquakes we experience are among the greatest natural disasters of the century. We would like to express our gratitude to each of our allies, partners and friends who support us in these difficult days,” Akar told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in quake-hit Hatay province.

“After these difficult days, we welcome the Alliance’s activation of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center (EADRCC) and the decision to establish a tent city of 2,000 people in Iskenderun,” Akar said.

The minister also thanked Stoltenberg for the solidarity shown after the disaster, for his visit, as well as the lowering of all flags at NATO headquarters in Brussels, and for observing a moment of silence at the opening of the NATO defence ministers meeting on Feb. 14 to honour the victims.

“All these are the clearest and most meaningful indicator of NATO’s spirit of unity, solidarity and alliance,” Akar said.

1618 GMT — Egyptian associations in Türkiye collect $200K

This is in addition to five relief convoys, a donation campaign, evacuation of those trapped, and volunteer missions.

“Since the earthquake occurred on Feb. 6, Egyptian institutions have worked, in coordination with a number of official Turkish authorities, to launch a donations campaign amounting to 3.6 million Turkish lira until Wednesday evening,” the organizations said in a statement.

1615 GMT — Seychelles donates relief items to Türkiye’s earthquake victims

The Turkish Embassy in Nairobi has received a donation of 66 tonnes of relief products from the people of Seychelles.

The relief items received by the embassy include blankets, winter gear, and mattresses, which will be distributed to those affected by the disaster.

The Turkish Embassy in Nairobi accredited to Seychelles has expressed gratitude for the generosity of the Seychellois people.

GMT — UN launches $1B humanitarian appeal for Türkiye

“Today the United Nations is launching a $1 billion humanitarian appeal for the people of Türkiye suffering from the most devastating earthquakes to hit the country in a century,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

“The funding – which covers a three-month period — will assist 5.2 million people and allow aid organisations to rapidly scale up vital support for Government-led relief efforts in a number of areas including food security, protection, education, water and shelter,” said the statement.

Guterres said: “Türkiye is home to the largest number of refugees in the world and has shown enormous generosity to its Syrian neighbours for years”.

1523 GMT — Iraq’s relief airlift continues for quake-hit Türkiye: Iraqi diplomat

Iraqi Consul-General Hussein Abdelwahed has stressed that his country’s relief airlift continues to extend aid to the affected people.

Abdelwahed whose Consulate General in the Turkish city of Gaziantep was badly affected by the earthquakes, said following the earthquakes, there were immediate directions from the Iraqi government to prepare for the relief mission.

He added that Iraq’s early intervention came through the northern Iraqi Kurdish region by land convoys then followed by air cargoes from Baghdad airport to Gaziantep airport.

The consul-general noted that the relief materials included food items, medicines, blankets and first-aid kits.

1450 GMT — Sri Lankan plane carries relief goods from Bangladesh to Türkiye

A Sri Lankan flag carrier with nearly 11 tonnes of relief goods flew from Bangladesh to quake-hit Türkiye, according to official sources.

“Since last Friday, we have been carrying donations from Bangladesh to Türkiye on a regular basis by passenger airlines. Due to huge collections, we also arranged two big Turkish cargo flights that carried 200 tons of relief items.

But we are also trying to engage other international flights as a huge amount of donations is yet to be airlifted,” Ejaz Kadry, sales and traffic officer of Turkish Airlines, said.

He added that as part of that initiative, a Sri Lankan flight carried approximately 11 tons of relief items, including 250 tents, from Bangladesh to Türkiye.

1440 GMT — Turkish first lady thanks UAE, Azerbaijan, Qatar over quake support

Turkish first lady Emine Erdogan thanked Azerbaijani first lady, UAE’s mother of nation, and Qatari emir’s mother for their support.

“We will not forget our Azerbaijani brothers who said ‘Your pain is our pain’,” Erdogan said on Twitter.

She expressed gratitude to Azerbaijan and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva for their support with humanitarian aid planes, and the search and rescue teams.

1425 GMT — Bulgaria’s Turkish minority steps up aid drive for Türkiye

The minority’s religious authority, or grand mufti, said nearly $1.07 million has been collected for the earthquake victims in Türkiye, as reported by the Kircaalihaber news outlet.

Multiple aid campaigns by various Bulgarian and minority bodies for the victims are ongoing.

1316 GMT — Education of nearly 4M children disrupted: UNICEF

“Access to education is hampered for nearly four million children in the earthquake-affected areas,” UNICEF Türkiye said on its official Twitter account.

UNICEF said that the organisation was working with the government to resume education for out-of-school children by setting up learning spaces and offering supplies and training which are needed.

The organisation said that it was ensuring that children return to learning as soon as possible and that it was assessing damage to schools, making preparations for immediate repairs and establishing temporary learning spaces. In affected parts of Türkiye, schools have been suspended until March 1.

1315 GMT — Azerbaijan sends another batch of humanitarian aid to Türkiye

“Under Azerbaijan’s First Vice-President, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva’s instructions, another batch of humanitarian aid has been dispatched to the victims of the massive earthquake that struck Türkiye on Monday,” a statement by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation read.

The statement said that the humanitarian aid weighing 105 tonnes, which contains heaters and tents, is being flown by plane to the region.

1310 GMT — Erdogan receives NATO chief 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has received NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the Presidential Complex in the capital Ankara for talks.

Erdogan and Stoltenberg held a closed-door meeting at the presidential complex, according to the Turkish presidency.

1245 GMT — Djibouti contributes $1M in cash to Turkish relief efforts

Djibouti has donated $1 million in cash to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD) and will also send a second batch of relief goods to people.

An official at the Turkish Embassy in Djibouti said that the Djibouti ambassador to Ankara had made the cash donation to AFAD the day before.

According to the official, who did not want to be identified, they are sending 10 generators, six industrial projectors, 113 blankets, 100 pullovers, and 35 thermal garments donated by Djibouti companies.

1200 GMT — Military doctors treat quake victims in Türkiye’s Kahramanmaras

The mobile field hospital, which was established by the Turkish National Defense Ministry, has served around 1,000 patients since the third day of the earthquake.

A total of 74 personnel, including 10 military physicians, are on duty in 21 tents and 19 containers installed in the Necip Fazil City Hospital parking lot.

Mustafa Gerek, the head of military health services, said that the field hospital has many areas such as an intensive care unit and operating rooms.

“…unfortunately, the state hospital we are in could not start its activities fully because it was damaged in the earthquake. Our field hospital met the biggest need here,” Gerek said.

1105 GMT — Quakes in Türkiye deadliest natural disaster on alliance territory: NATO chief

Last week’s deadly earthquakes in southern Türkiye were “the deadliest natural disaster on alliance territory since the foundation of NATO,” the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

In a joint press conference, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Stoltenberg’s visit is meant to show NATO’s solidarity with longtime member Türkiye.

Thanking the NATO chief for his “active role” since the very beginning of the disaster, Cavusoglu said: “The NATO Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center has been coordinating this (NATO aid) assistance since the beginning. The NATO Council has also decided to send (residential) containers and tents that are suitable for winter conditions from their inventory to our country.”

1045 GMT — Quakes in Türkiye also felt in Armenia ‘in every sense’ : Armenian envoy 

The two earthquakes that jolted Türkiye last week were also felt in Armenia “in every sense,” Yerevan’s envoy for normalization of relations with Ankara said.

“Unfortunately, the pain we shared here brought us together, but we hope that one day, not happiness and disaster, but mutual cooperation will bring us together,” Ruben Rubinyan said during an interview in the city of Adiyaman, where Armenian rescuers have assisted in search and rescue operations.

Noting that earthquakes are not something foreign to Armenians, Rubinyan said both Turks and Armenians live in an earthquake zone.

“In such cases, there is only solidarity between societies. Armenia’s aid to Türkiye in the face of this disaster reflects the feelings of the Armenian community,” Rubinyan said.

Rubinyan also expressed his condolences and solidarity with Türkiye, adding that he hoped they can “achieve sustainable peace.”

1040 GMT — Young woman rescued from rubble 248 hours after earthquake in Türkiye

Rescuers found Aleyna Olmez, 17, alive under the rubble in the Dulkadiroglu district of Kahramanmaras province.

She was taken to a hospital for medical treatment.

Hacer Atlas, a member of the search and rescue team, who saved the young quake victim, said that they reached Olmez after long and tiring efforts.

Atlas said: “First we held her hand, then we took her out. She is in a very good condition, she can communicate. I hope we will continue to receive good news about her.”

0925 GMT — Türkiye earthquake affecting country’s GDP in 2023

The potential economic effects of the earthquake in Türkiye could result in a loss of up to one percent of the country’s gross domestic product this year, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said in a report published.

The bank added this is a “reasonable estimate” due to the expected boost from reconstruction efforts later this year, which will offset the negative impact to infrastructure and supply chains.

“The earthquake affected to a large extent agricultural areas and areas where there is light manufacturing, so spillovers to other sectors are limited,” EBRD chief economist Beata Javorcik told Reuters news agency.

0913 GMT — More than 100 Palestinians killed by earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria

At least 104 Palestinians have been reported killed by the earthquake that hit southern Türkiye and neighbouring Syria.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at least 53 Palestinians were confirmed dead in Türkiye while another 51 died in Syria.

0832 GMT — Nonstop rescue operations in Kahramanmaras turns into recovery operation

Three days of nonstop rescue operations carried out by Turkish and foreign volunteers in Kahramanmaras have now turned into a recovery operation.

TRT World’s Melinda Nucifora, reporting from Kahramanmaras, said that rescuers have not detected signs of survivors.

0822 GMT— Death toll in Türkiye quakes climbs to 36,187

Türkiye’s emergency agency reported that the death toll from last week’s earthquakes has risen to 36,187.

That brings to 42,001 the total death toll in both Türkiye and Syria.

0655 GMT — Albania’s prime minister donates $1M for Türkiye’s earthquake aid campaign

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama donated €1 million ($1.06 million) to Türkiye’s new campaign for earthquake victims named Türkiye One Heart.

Addressing the nation as the voice of Albania, Rama said they are deeply saddened by what happened in Türkiye.

”We are a small country, but we have a big heart. We will never forget what Türkiye and President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan did for us in 2019, when the earthquake hit Albania. We are ready to do our best to support the Turkish people. I am sure that thanks to Türkiye’s efforts, everything will achieved,” he said.

0444 GMT — Pakistan’s premier to visit Türkiye’s earthquake-hit areas

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will pay a two-day visit to Türkiye starting on Thursday to express solidarity with the victims of the February 6 disaster.

During his visit, Sharif will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “personally convey heartfelt condolences on behalf of the entire Pakistani nation over the loss of precious lives and the widespread damage caused by the earthquake(s).”

He will also visit the earthquake-affected areas in southern Türkiye and interact with the Pakistani search and rescue teams deployed in the area.

For our live updates from Wednesday (February 15), click here

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