Connect with us

World

Survivors of Turkiye, Syria quake struggle to stay warm, fed

Published

on

Survivors of Turkiye, Syria quake struggle to stay warm, fed

Thousands who lost their homes in a catastrophic earthquake huddled around campfires and clamored for food and water in the bitter cold, three days after the temblor and series of aftershocks hit Turkiye and Syria, killing more than 17,000.

Rescuers continued their race to pull more people alive from the rubble, with the window closing to find trapped survivors. While stories of miraculous rescues briefly buoyed spirits, the grim reality of the hardship facing tens of thousands who survived the disaster cast a pall.
In the Turkish city of Antakya, dozens of people scrambled for aid in front of a truck distributing children’s coats and other supplies.

Ahmet Tokgoz, a survivor, called for the government to evacuate people from the devastated region. While many of the tens of thousands who have lost their homes have found shelter in tents, stadiums and other temporary accommodation, others have spent the nights outdoors since Monday’s 7.8 magnitude quake.
“Especially in this cold, it is not possible to live here,” he said. “People are warming up around campfires, but campfires can only warm you up so much. … If people haven’t died from being stuck under the rubble, they’ll die from the cold.”

Meanwhile, the first U.N. aid trucks to enter rebel-held northwest Syria from Turkiye since the quake arrived Thursday morning. Smaller aid organizations have sent in shipments, but the U.N. is only authorized to deliver aid through one border crossing and road damage has prevented that thus far.

Winter weather and damage to roads and airports from the quake have hampered the response throughout a region already contending with the repercussions of more than a decade of civil war in Syria. That conflict displaced millions of people within Syria and left many reliant on humanitarian aid, while also sending millions more over the border into Turkiye to seek refuge.

Some in Turkiye have complained the response was too slow. Any perception that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has mismanaged the crisis could hurt him at a time when he faces a tough battle for reelection in May. Erdogan — who was scheduled to continue his tour of devastated areas on Thursday — has sought to play down the criticism.

Meanwhile, emergency crews on both sides of the border worked through the night to find survivors. Experts said the survival window for those trapped under the rubble or otherwise unable to obtain basic necessities was closing rapidly. At the same time, they said it was too soon to abandon hope.

In the Turkish town of Elbistan, rescuers formed human chains as they dug through collapsed buildings, urging quiet in the hopes of hearing stifled pleas for help. But more and more often, they pulled out dead bodies from under the rubble.

The family of Havva Havam still hoped to see three of its members alive again, sitting by the fire opposite their former home, now the pile of debris.

In Antakya to the south, rescuers pulled out a young girl, Hazal Guner, from the ruins of a building and also rescued her father, Soner Guner, news agency IHA reported.
As they prepared to load the man into an ambulance, rescue crews told him that his daughter was alive. “I love you all,” he faintly whispered.

Elsewhere in the city, Serap Arslan said machinery only started to move some of the heavy concrete covering trapped people on Wednesday.

“We tried to clear the debris on our own, but unfortunately our efforts have been insufficient,” the 45-year-old said.

Turkyie’s disaster management agency said more than 110,000 rescue personnel were now taking part in the effort and more than 5,500 vehicles, including tractors, cranes, bulldozers and excavators had been shipped.

In the Syrian government-held city of Aleppo, rescue workers pulled seven people out alive and 44 bodies on Thursday from a collapsed building in the city center, state TV reported.

“We are racing against time. Time is running out,” said the Syrian paramedic group in the rebel-held northwest known as White Helmets. “Every second could mean saving a life.”

As in Turkyie, heavy machinery was urgently needed there to speed up rescue operations, the group said.

Aid efforts in Syria have been hampered by the ongoing war and the isolation of the rebel-held region along the border, which is surrounded by Russia-backed government forces. Syria itself is an international pariah under Western sanctions linked to the war.

On Thursday, the first U.N. aid trucks crossed into northwest Syria from Turkiye. U.N. officials said they are also trying to scale up deliveries to the area from the capital, Damascus.

The shipment was scheduled before the earthquake happened but was delayed by the road damage. U.N. officials said more trucks were set to follow with assistance specifically for the current crisis.

Still, the scale of loss and suffering to tend to is massive. Erdogan announced Thursday that the death toll had risen to more than 14,000 in his country, with more than 63,000 injured. On the Syrian side, which includes in government-held and rebel-held areas, of the border, more than 3,100 have been reported dead and more than 5,000 injured.

On Wednesday, Erdogan sought to deflect criticism of the response — and vowed it was improving.

“It is not possible to be prepared for such a disaster,” Erdogan said as he visited the hard-hit province of Hatay. “We will not leave any of our citizens uncared for.” He also hit back at critics, saying “dishonorable people” were spreading “lies and slander” about the government’s actions.

He said the government would distribute 10,000 Turkish lira ($532) to affected families.

The earthquake’s toll is the highest worldwide since a 2011 earthquake off Japan triggered a tsunami, killing nearly 20,000 people.

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

World

US Coast Guard boards Chinese fishing boats near Kiribati, official says

US Coast Guard boards Chinese fishing boats near Kiribati, official says

Published

on

By

US Coast Guard boards Chinese fishing boats near Kiribati, official says

The US Coast Guard and Kiribati police boarded two Chinese fishing boats during a patrol against illegal fishing in the Pacific Islands nation’s vast exclusive economic zone this month but found no issues aboard, a coast guard official said.

The United States is seeking a bigger role for its coast guard in helping remote Pacific Islands nations monitor millions of kilometres of ocean – a rich tuna fishing ground – a move that also boosts surveillance as a rivalry with China over security ties in the region intensifies.

Reuters reported on Friday that Chinese police are working in Kiribati, with uniformed officers involved in community policing and a crime database program.

Kiribati, a nation of 115,000 residents, is considered strategic despite being small, as it is relatively close to Hawaii and controls a 3.5 million square kilometre (1.35 million square mile) exclusive economic zone. It is also host to a Japanese satellite tracking station.

Advertisement

Washington has flagged plans to build an embassy in Kiribati to compete with China, but has not yet done so.

Kiribati police officers were on patrol with the US Coast Guard as “ship riders” for the first time in almost a decade, between Feb. 11-16, a US Coast Guard Guam spokeswoman said.

“The two People’s Republic of China (PRC) flagged fishing vessels were boarded as part of routine maritime law enforcement activities to ensure compliance with regulations within the Kiribati Exclusive Economic Zone,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed comments.

No concerns were reported during the boardings, she said.

“Both Kiribati officers from the Kiribati Police Maritime Unit and US Coast Guard officers were involved in the boarding operations. This collaboration underscores the partnership between the two nations in upholding maritime law and good governance,” she added.

Advertisement

The Kiribati president’s office and Chinese embassy did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Kiribati’s acting police commissioner, Eeri Aritiera, told Reuters last week that Chinese police on the island work with local police.

China built a large embassy on the main island, Tarawa, after Kiribati switched ties from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019. 

Advertisement
Continue Reading

World

Ukraine downs nine Russian drones, three missiles, air force says

Ukraine downs nine Russian drones, three missiles, air force says

Published

on

By

Ukraine downs nine Russian drones, three missiles, air force says

Russia launched 14 attack drones and a barrage of missiles at Ukraine overnight, with air defence systems destroying nine drones as well as three guided missiles over the Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions, Ukraine’s air force said on Monday.

Russia also launched two S-300 missiles from anti-aircraft missile systems and one air-to-surface Kh-31P missile, the air force said on the Telegram messaging app.

It was not clear what happened to the missiles and drones that were not downed. 

Advertisement
Continue Reading

World

Taiwan ally Tuvalu names Feleti Teo as new prime minister

Taiwan ally Tuvalu names Feleti Teo as new prime minister

Published

on

By

Taiwan ally Tuvalu names Feleti Teo as new prime minister

Tuvalu on Monday announced former attorney general and fisheries official Feleti Teo as its new prime minister, after he was elected unopposed by lawmakers in the Pacific Islands nation, officials said.

Former Prime Minister Kausea Natano lost his seat in a general election on Jan. 26 closely watched by Taiwan, China, the US and Australia, amid a geopolitical tussle for influence in the South Pacific.

Tuvalu, with a population of about 11,200 spread across nine islands, is one of three remaining Pacific allies of Taiwan, after Nauru cut ties last month and switched to Beijing, which had promised more development help.

Teo received unanimous support from the 16 lawmakers, two lawmakers told Reuters on Monday.

Advertisement

Teo, who was educated in New Zealand and Australia, was Tuvalu’s first attorney general. He has decades of experience as a senior official in the regional fisheries organisation and has worked with the Pacific Islands Forum, the region’s major political and economic group. Fishing is a major source of revenue in the Pacific islands.

“Feleti Teo was declared by the Governor General as Prime Minister for Tuvalu,” Tuvalu’s government secretary, Tufoua Panapa, said in an emailed statement.

Tuvalu lawmaker Simon Kofe congratulated Teo in a social media post.

“It is the first time in our history that a Prime Minister has been nominated unopposed,” he said.

The election result in Tuvalu had been delayed by a month as dangerous weather stopped boats from bringing new lawmakers to the capital to vote for prime minister, highlighting why climate change is the top political issue in the Pacific Islands nation.

Advertisement

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said its ambassador to Tuvalu, Andrew Lin, expressed Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s congratulations to Teo, adding that deputy foreign minister Tien Chung-kwang will visit Tuvalu in the near future.

Teo is a friend of Taiwan’s and has visited many times, and has said relations are stable and that maintaining ties is the widespread consensus in Tuvalu, the ministry added.

Taiwan previously said it was paying close attention to the election after Tuvalu’s finance minister in the previous government, Seve Paeniu, said the issue of diplomatic recognition of Taiwan or China should be debated by the new government.

There had also been calls by some lawmakers to review a wide-ranging deal signed with Australia in November, that allows Canberra to vet Tuvalu’s police, port and telecommunication cooperation with other nations, in return for a defence guarantee and allowing citizens threatened by rising seas to migrate.

The deal was seen as an effort to curb China’s rising influence as an infrastructure provider in the Pacific Islands.

Advertisement

Teo’s position on Taiwan ties, and the Australian security and migration pact, have not been made public.

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on social media he looked forward to working with Teo.

“Australia deeply values our relationship with Tuvalu, in the spirit of the Falepili Union,” he wrote, referring to the migration pact.

Tuvalu’s ministry would be announced at an oath taking ceremony for the new government later this week, Panapa said.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © GLOBAL TIMES PAKISTAN