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Turkey, Syria quake toll rises to more than 22,000 as search continues



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ISTANBUL, Turkey — Even as hopes of finding more survivors begin to fade, rescue workers in earthquake-raved Turkey continue to pull survivors from buildings collapsed on Friday – including a mother and her 10-day-old son.

The survivors were among the few who could hold out longer four days after two major earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria, in frigid temperatures beneath the rubble of their own homes. Scenes that show them being carried on stretchers, covered in blankets of yellow leaves, offer rare moments of optimism in this ever-expanding tragedy.

In opposition-controlled Syria, the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, only reported finding the dead on Friday, including the a whole family in the city of Salqin and a child in the town of Jinderes. The group – which operates with far fewer resources than rescuers in Turkey – continues to dig, sometimes with their bare hands, as the death toll between the two countries has exceeded 23,000.

Fourteen aid trucks entered northwestern Syria from Turkey on Friday, the largest such delivery to enter the enclave since the earthquake leveled entire settlements on both sides of the border. on Monday. A first United Nations aid convoy entered the area on Thursday. UN officials have blamed damaged roads, lack of fuel and security problems for delayed response.

During a press conference on Friday, Raed al Saleh, director of the White Helmets, criticized the international community for not doing more to help northwestern Syria.

United Nations “no” [been] give anything” to support the group’s rescue efforts, he said, calling for a United Nations investigation into why international aid is reaching areas run by the government. control but not rebel-controlled areas. Anything new Incoming assistance will not affect rescue operations that are ending, he said. Instead, aid will go toward removing rubble and unstable buildings.

However, in some villages, the search continues.

The search party continues and hopes for life are beginning to wane. tweeted on friday.

Rescue efforts have been slowed in some areas due to winter weather, heavy rain and in one Syria village, a dam burst causing widespread flooding.

Aid cargo planes from Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Libya arrived at government-controlled airports in Syria on Friday to support the Syrian government’s relief efforts, The official Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited the government-controlled city of Aleppo with his wife, Asma, in his first public visit to the disaster zone since the earthquake. Pictures shared by the government show them meeting patients at a hospital in the war-torn city where rescue operations are taking place.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited devastated area in the south of his countrywhere he described the earthquakes as the “catastrophe of the century.” More than 100,000 people — including soldiers, police, firefighters and aid workers — have been called to action in Turkey, and nearly 100 countries have offered to help.

More than 250 children rescued in Turkey have not been rescued yet separated from their familyTurkish officials said on Friday.

Turkish authorities on Friday arrested Mehmet Yasar Coskun, the developer of a luxury apartment complex in the southern city of Antakya that collapsed in the earthquake, state news agency Anadolu reported. According to local media, the 12-storey apartment complex, called Renaissance Residence, consists of 250 apartments.

Aerial photos circulating on social media showed a catastrophic collapse, with large parts of the complex collapsing to the ground, even as other adjacent apartment blocks remained standing. . Hundreds of people are believed to be trapped in the rubble. Anadolu said Coskun was trying to travel from Istanbul to Montenegro on Friday night and was ordered to be arrested by the Istanbul prosecutor.

The Rönesans Rezidans apartment building in Atakya collapsed when a major earthquake struck southern Turkey on February 6. (Video: David Enders for The Washington Post)

U.S army start deploying forces U.S. officials said Friday that they will assist with earthquake relief in Turkey, with a Navy headquarters overseeing the mission and a Marine general arriving on the ground to assess the extent of assistance. assistance may be needed.

It is unclear how the US military can also assist in Syria, where the US maintains a limited counterterrorism mission in the northeastern corner of the country.

Jeffry L. Flake, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, said in a brief interview Friday that two U.S. urban search and rescue teams worked “day and night” for 48 hours. to help rehabilitate victims in the ruined Turkish city of Adiyaman. , detailing the Biden administration’s efforts to assist the Turkish government in its response to the country’s worst disaster in decades.

The US teams, based in Fairfax, VA and Los Angeles, join a host of other foreign rescue teams, including a large team from Algeria, which have dispersed in devastated locations across the country. southern and southeastern Turkey.

The ambassador said the US rescue teams include 160 personnel, dozens of dogs and 170,000 pounds of equipment and are “making good progress.”

US military helicopters, including heavy rotary-wing helicopters and Blackhawks, have flown relief workers from Incirlik Air Force Base to the affected provinces; Flake said more helicopters were scheduled to arrive at the base “in the coming days”.

A US field hospital has also been established in Hatay, another hard-hit province, in collaboration with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian disaster relief organization.

U.S. financial aid has also been allocated to relief efforts in Syria, in both government-controlled and rebel-held areas, through “partner organisations,” Flake said. It is unclear exactly how much of the $85 million aid package will be allocated to Syria, which is isolated by civil war and Western sanctions. The Treasury Department on Thursday issued a general permit allowing transactions related to earthquake relief in Syria for six months.

John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council, said at least eight US citizens were killed in the earthquakes.

Sivanka Dhanapala, the UN refugee agency’s representative in Syria, said on Friday that access to northwestern Syria was affected by damage from the quake. More than 5.3 million people affected in Syria will need shelter, and the agency is currently focusing on lifesaving measures including distributing tents to those displaced.

O’Grady reports from Dahab, Egypt. Fahim reports from Istanbul. Parker reported from Washington. Zeynep Karatas in Istanbul, Dan Lamothe in Washington, Ellen Francis in London and Niha Masih in Seoul contributed to this report.

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