Turkey earthquake: Rescue effort ends in all but two areas

HATAY (Agencies): Turkey has ended rescue efforts in all but two provinces, almost two weeks after a massive earthquake killed tens of thousands of people, the country’s disaster agency said. Searches will continue in Kahramanmaras and Hatay, the agency’s chief said. However, hopes of finding anyone else alive in the rubble are fading fast.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Turkey and announced $100m (£83m) in humanitarian aid. The epicentre of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on 6 February was in Kahramanmaras. More than 44,000 people are confirmed to have lost their lives in south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria.
The death toll is expected to climb, with about 345,000 apartments in Turkey known to have been destroyed and many people still missing. Neither Turkey nor Syria have said how many people are still unaccounted for.
“In many of our provinces, search and rescue efforts have been completed,” the disaster agency’s chief, Yunus Sezer, told reporters in Ankara. He said search and rescue efforts were continuing at around 40 buildings in the two provinces, but he expected this number to fall by Sunday evening.
Rescue workers pulled at least three people from the rubble on Friday, more than 11 days after they were trapped when the earthquake hit. Mr Blinken has arrived in Turkey to show support, despite the trip being planned before the quake. It is his first trip to Turkey since he took office more than two years ago.
The new aid “will be moving soon. Sadly, it’s less about search and rescue but long-term recovery. This is going to be a long-term effort”, he told reporters. He added that getting aid into Syria was “very, very challenging”.
He will travel to Hatay to see humanitarian efforts before travelling to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday. The pair are expected to discuss issues including Turkey’s refusal to ratify Sweden and Finland’s Nato membership applications.
Int’l Red Cross head visits Türkiye’s quake zone to monitor humanitarian aid: Türkiye on Sunday hosted the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), who was visiting earthquake-hit areas in the country to examine the humanitarian assistance activities carried out by the Turkish Red Crescent.
Visiting the southern provinces of Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras, Secretary-General Jagan Chapagain voiced his support and solidarity with Türkiye in a meeting with Kerem Kinik, the head of the Turkish Red Crescent, or Kizilay, in Kahramanmaras province, the IFRC said in a statement. “The scale of the damage and destruction is absolutely unimaginable,” Chapagain said, calling the level of destruction, and the damage “heartbreaking.”
On Kizilay’s efforts on the ground, he said the organization “swung into action immediately in the middle of this destruction.”
“Thousands of volunteers and staff were mobilized on day 1 all over the earthquake-affected areas to bring food. Because that was a really immediate need. And now they are expending their services of shelter, health, water, sanitation and protection.”
Thanking the volunteers and staff of Kizilay for their dedication and commitment, he said: “I also know that many of them have lost some of their family members. But their commitment is not shaking. They are still here.” Chapagain also said that the IFRC was extending its support to Kizilay, which, he underlined was a “very strong National Society with a huge capacity.”
For his part, Kinik said three daily meals were being served to 2.5 million people impacted by the earthquakes, adding that the urgent need for blood donations had been resolved in the first days of the disaster thanks to “the intense support of our citizens.” Kizilay provided blood and blood products needed by hospitals in the quake-hit region and called on people to donate blood, with voluntary donations to the Red Crescent on the first day surpassing 40,000 units, it said in a separate statement the day after the earthquakes struck