News ID: 112499
Publish Date : 18 February 2023 - 21:41

Death Toll in Turkey Exceeds 40,000 After Earthquakes

ANKARA (Dispatches) – The death toll from two major earthquakes that struck southeastern Turkey almost two weeks ago has risen to 40,642, the country’s disaster agency said Saturday.
Search and rescue efforts will be largely completed as of Sunday evening, Yunus Sezer, head of the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said at a press conference.
The emergency work was concentrated in southern Hatay province, which was hit hardest in last week’s quakes, he said, adding that the disaster agency had nearly 13,000 personnel working in the area.
A total of 430,000 people were evacuated from the earthquake area, Sezer said.
A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck Türkiye’s southern province of Kahramanmaras at 4:17 a.m. local time (0117 GMT), followed by a magnitude 6.4 quake a few minutes later in the country’s southern province of Gaziantep and a magnitude 7.6 earthquake at 1:24 p.m. local time (1024 GMT) in the Kahramanmaras Province.
Turkish rescuers pulled three people, including a child, alive from the rubble, 13 days after a massive earthquake claimed tens of thousands of lives, local media reported.
The man, woman and child were transferred to ambulances after spending 296 hours buried under the Kanatli apartment block in Antakya, the capital of Hatay province.
Footage showed teams carrying a man and a woman out on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance. Beside them, medics were seen treating a child.
Ambulances were on standby for possible other rescues from the same building, Turkish broadcaster TRT said.
Turkey’s health minister, Fahrettin Koca, praised the efforts of rescue workers on Friday for finding a 14-year-old boy and three men from the rubble nearly 11 days after the huge earthquake. 
Covered in a blanket and with a neck brace, the teenager, called Osman, was initially given first aid by rescue workers and then rushed to a waiting ambulance. 
Rescuers found Osman overnight in Hatay province at the epicenter of the earthquake after hearing sounds in the rubble, the Anadolu state news agency reported.
Rescue efforts, although winding down, continue even as the death toll steadily climbs, reaching more than 40,000 in Turkey. 
An hour after Osman was found, two other men were found in Antakya.
Images shared by Koca show a 33-year-old man, Mustafa Avci, rescued from the rubble 261 hours after the earthquake struck and being administered first aid in a field hospital. 
The DHA news agency named the other survivor as Mehmet Ali Sakiroglu, 26. He was retrieved from the same building as Avci.
Sakiroglu’s father was also overjoyed that his son was found alive, telling reporters: “We are at home now. I am very happy. May God make Turkey happy. I myself came out of the wreckage. I escaped through the other door on the first day with my own means. Mehmet’s wife and child were also removed on the first day.”
Demands Grow for Swift Removal of Sanctions on Syria 
Meanwhile, more than two dozen Arab political parties have demanded urgent removal of all sanctions imposed by the United States and its Western allies against Syria, amid a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck northern Syria and neighboring Turkey.
The 26 factions, in a joint statement released on Thursday, called for the abolition of the unilateral coercive measures and expressed solidarity with the Syrian leadership and nation.
They underscored their unwavering support for Syrians in the wake of the powerful quake and strongly condemned all arbitrary measures taken by the United States and its allies.
The parties also called on the United Nations and relevant international organizations to adopt swift and urgent measures aimed at the removal of sanctions and delivery of essential humanitarian aid to quake-affected regions in Syria.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad thanked Arab countries and other friendly nations for their aid following the tragic incident.
“We cannot overlook expressing thanks to all the countries that stood by us since the first hours of the disaster from among our Arab brothers and our friends,” Assad said during a televised speech broadcast on Thursday evening.