Turkish rescue teams hunt for quake survivors as death toll hits 36

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A handout picture taken and released on January 26, 2020 by the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality press office shows a rescue officer with a 2.5-year-old (Nusra) being rescued under the rubble of a building that collapsed in Elazig following January 24's earthquake. (AFP)
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Tents setup by the government for survivors as rescue workers try to save people trapped under debris following a strong earthquake that destroyed several buildings on Friday, in Elazig, eastern Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. (AP)
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Rescue workers remove corpses from the rubble of a building after an earthquake in Elazig, eastern Turkey, on January 26, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 27 January 2020

Turkish rescue teams hunt for quake survivors as death toll hits 36

  • The magnitude 6.8 quake hit on Friday evening, with its epicenter in the small lakeside town of Sivrice in Elazig province
  • Nearly 80 buildings collapsed while 645 were heavily damaged in Elazig and Malatya

ANKARA: Working against the clock in freezing temperatures, Turkish rescue teams pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings on Sunday, days after a powerful magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the country’s east.
Authorities said the death toll rose to at least 36 people.
Turkish television showed Ayse Yildiz, 35, and her 2-year-old daughter Yusra being dragged out of the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in the city of Elazig. They had been trapped for 28 hours after the earthquake struck on Friday night.
The magnitude 6.8 quake also injured over 1,600 people but 45 survivors have been pulled alive from the rubble so far, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference Sunday in Istanbul.
More than 700 aftershocks rocked the region as over 3,500 rescue experts scrambled through wrecked buildings to reach survivors, working around the clock. Rescue teams concentrated efforts in the city’s Mustafa Pasa neighborhood and the nearby town of Sivrice.


700 - aftershocks rocked the region as over 3,500 rescue experts scrambled through wrecked buildings to reach survivors, working around the clock.

One rescued couple was reunited with a Syrian student who had helped to dig them out of their home with his hands. “He is our hero and angel,” Dudane Aydin said of Mahmud Al-Osman.
As overnight temperatures dropped to -5 degrees Celsius, emergency teams set up more than 9,500 tents for displaced residents and distributed 17,000 hot meals.
The Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency said 20 of the aftershocks measured magnitude 4.0 or above, including a magnitude 4.3 quake that hit the neighboring province of Malatya on Sunday morning.
The agency said 76 buildings were destroyed and more than 1,000 were damaged by the quake.

Lebanese security men hit by COVID-19

Updated 02 April 2020

Lebanese security men hit by COVID-19

  • Pets being dumped by owners over fears

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army Forces Command confirmed on Wednesday that an officer from the second Land Border Regiment has tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) along with a law enforcement officer at the Guard Brigade of the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The army officer is undergoing treatment, and “precautionary measures have been taken,” according to the army, including placing anyone with whom he has recently been in contact in quarantine.

On Wednesday, 16 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, with number of laboratory-confirmed cases in Lebanon now at 479.

Two deaths were announced in the intensive care unit for coronavirus patients — one in their fifties and the other in their sixties — both of whom were suffering from chronic diseases. The Health Ministry’s report stated that Matn in Mount Lebanon (99 cases) and Beirut (89) are the two areas with the highest number of cases.

A TV report falsely claiming that cats and dogs can transmit COVID-19 to humans is believed to be one of the main causes behind an increase in owners abandoning their pets in Lebanon.

According to the Animal Health Department at the Ministry of Agriculture — based on the number of vaccines that Lebanon imports for veterinary use — there are 110,000 dogs and around 55,000 cats kept as pets in the country. Images of dogs that have reportedly been abandoned or, in some cases, poisoned, have been circulating widely on social media. The network responsible for the incorrect report later apologized.

Dr. Bassel Bazzal, head of the Animal Health Service at the Ministry of Agriculture told Arab News, “We witnessed this phenomenon in the last week of February and the first week of March, and then it subsided after the veterinarians’ clarifications on television, based on reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), that there is no evidence that companion animals/pets transmit the virus to humans.”

The Lebanese Veterinary Syndicate, headed by Dr. Ihab Chaaban, had called on pet guardians “to comply with specified vaccination dates, and not to take any information except from relevant scientific authorities.”

Bazzal said that the television report was based on news from Hong Kong that a dog there had been infected with coronavirus by its owner. However, he stressed, that dog did not transmit the virus to others.

He noted that dogs can be infected with a particular strain of coronavirus (IBV), for which a vaccine already exists and that cannot be transmitted to humans.

Jounieh-based veterinarian Rami Mdawar told Arab News that his clinic has already received “three or four” poisoned dogs. “We used to only see poisoning cases sometimes, but after the spread of coronavirus and the false information about dogs transmitting the virus to humans, we are now witnessing abandonment cases of pets and poisoning in many areas.”

While Mdawar said he understood that people who abandoned their pets were probably acting out of “panic and fear for their families,” he also stressed that “it is not based on correct scientific information.” In fact, he said, he has been preventing clients from accompanying their animals into his clinic, because, “it is animals that face the threat of humans, and I do not want the virus to be transmitted to the animals at the clinic.

Mdawar noted that although parliament has approved the Animal Welfare Law which will punish those who kill or harm animals, that law has yet to be implemented.

The veterinarian stressed, however, that the majority of people in Lebanon are not cruel to animals. “It is not all negative,” he said. “There are a lot of people who are adopting dogs, and some have more than one dog in their homes. Other people are actually buying pets at this time because they help them psychologically and comfort them. And that’s not just seniors or people who live alone”.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Veterinary Syndicate in France warned of “the danger of using detergents or hand sterilizers to clean pets” after images of dogs whose legs were burned after their guardians used sanitizers or bleaching products on their pets surfaced online.