Two massive quakes leave hundreds dead, others missing in Turkiye and Syria

People try to reach trapped residents in a collapsed building in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey, on February 6, 2023. (Depo Photos via AP)
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Updated 07 February 2023

Two massive quakes leave hundreds dead, others missing in Turkiye and Syria

  • On both sides of the border, residents, jolted out of sleep, rushed outside on a cold, snowy night
  • Hundreds still believed to be trapped under rubble as rescue workers search mounds of wreckage

ANKARA: A second earthquake measuring at least 7.5 magnitude rocked Turkiyer and neighboring Syria less than 12 hours after the border areas were hit by a quake measuring 7.8, killing more than 1,000 people, with many others missing or injuredon Monday morning. 

The 7.8-magnitude quake struck just after 4 a.m. local time on Monday, 23 kilometerseast of Nurdagi, Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers, according to data from the United States Geological Survey.

The second quake struck at 1:45p.m. local time - the impact to the death toll as of yet still unknown.

Tremors from aftershocks continued throughout the day and were felt as far as Beirut in Lebanon and in Iraq's Duhok and Erbil. 

It is not clear precisely how many people have died, although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the current number of dead in Turkiye was more than 900, but added it woukld not be possible to predict what the final death toll might be.

Meanwhile in Syria the number was placed at 710 dead according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The 7.8-magnitude quake struck just after 4 a.m. local time on Monday, 23 kilometerseast of Nurdagi, Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers, according to data from the United States Geological Survey.

The earthquake caused devastation across both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border claiming hundreds of lives.

The quake was so strong that tremors were felt in Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

A hospital in the southeastern Sanliurfa province was completely destroyed by the earthquake, with many patients remaining trapped beneath the rubble.

Rescue workers and residents frantically searched for survivors under the rubble of collapsed buildings in various cities on both sides of the border. In one quake-struck Turkish city, people frantically pulled away chunks of concrete and twisted metal. People on the street shouted up to others inside a partially toppled apartment building, leaning dangerously.

In the Turkish city of Adana, one resident said three buildings near his home collapsed. “I don’t have the strength anymore,” one survivor could be heard calling out from beneath the rubble, as rescue workers tried to reach him, said Muhammet Fatih Yavus a resident. Further east in Diyarbakir, cranes and rescue teams rushed people on stretchers out of a mountain of pancaked concrete floors that was once an apartment building.

 

 

At least 20 aftershocks followed, some hours later, the strongest measuring 6.6, Turkish authorities said. 

Buildings toppled to the ground in Syria’s cities of Aleppo and Hama to Turkiye’s Diyarbakir, more than 330 kilometers to the northeast.

Also in Syria, the quake smashed opposition-held regions that are packed with some 4 million people displaced from other parts of Syria by the country’s long civil war. Many of them were already living in destitute conditions with little health care, with Russian-backed Syrian forces surrounding the area and sometimes carrying out airstrikes. Rescue workers said hospitals in the area were packed.

“We fear that the deaths are in the hundreds,” Muheeb Qaddour, a doctor, said by phone from the town of Atmeh, referring to the entire rebel-held area. Raed Salah, the head of the White Helmets, the emergency organization in opposition areas, said whole neighborhoods were collapsed in some areas.

The quake, felt as far away as Cairo, was centered north of the city of Gaziantep in an area about 90 kilometers from the Syrian border.

On the Turkish side, the area has several large cities and is home to millions of Syrian refugees.




In this handout photo taken by Sana news aganecy in Hama, Syria on February 6, 2023, rescuers evacuate a victim from an eight-storey building that collapsed after an 7.8-magnitude earthquake in southern Turkey. (Photo courtesy: SANA/AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that “search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched” to the areas hit by the quake.

“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he wrote.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu urged people not to enter damaged buildings due to the risks. “Our priority is to bring out people trapped under ruined buildings and to transfer them to hospitals,” he said.
At least 130 buildings tumbled down in Turkiye’s Malatya province, neighboring the epicenter, Gov. Hulusi Sahin said. In the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, at least 15 buildings collapsed. Rescue teams called for silence as they listed for survivors in a toppled 11-story building.
In northwest Syria, the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense described the situation in the rebel-held region as “disastrous” adding that entire buildings have collapsed and people are trapped under the rubble. The civil defense urged people to evacuate buildings to gather in open areas. Emergency rooms were full of injured, said Amjad Rass, president of the Syrian American Medical Society.

US President Biden directed USAID and other federal government partners to assess response options to the most affected areas in the Turkiye and Syria earthquake, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement on Sunday.
The United States is profoundly concerned by the reports of the destructive earthquake, he said.
The US Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 33 kilometers from Gaziantep, a major city and provincial capital. It was centered 18 kilometers deep, and a strong 6.7 aftershock rumbled about 10 minutes later.
Syria’s state media reported that some buildings collapsed in the northern city of Aleppo and the central city of Hama.
In Damascus, buildings shook and many people went down to the streets in fear.

 

 

The quake jolted residents in Lebanon from beds, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many residents of Beirut left their homes and took to the streets or drove in their cars away from buildings.
The earthquake came as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm that is expected to continue until Thursday.
Turkiye sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes.
Some 18,000 were killed in powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkiye in 1999.

The earthquake came as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm that is expected to continue until Thursday.

Cetizens from as far as Jerusalem and Beirut talked of being awakened by the strong shaking. "I live in Gaziantep, Türkiye.  Was sleeping when it started. Absolutely terrifying," Nasip (@iam_nasib) commented on a video posted on Twitter.

"Felt it in Jerusalem," said Amy di Nardò (@amybellabella).

Sagittarius (@JRsagittarius) said he was in Beirut and the experienced "was terrifying."

Karolingston (@karolingston) of Cyprus said he was awakened because "My bed was shaking."

"Felt it in Lebanon. It was a hell of a feeling!" chimed in CharbelRahmé (@charbelrahm_e)

Turkiye is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.

Duzce was one of the regions hit by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999 — the worst to hit Turkiye in decades.

That quake killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in Istanbul.

Experts have long warned a large quake could devastate Istanbul, which has allowed widespread building without safety precautions.

A magnitude-6.8 quake hit Elazig in January 2020, killing more than 40 people.

And in October that year, a magnitude-7.0 quake hit the Aegean Sea, killing 114 people and wounding more than 1,000.

(With agencies)

 


Romania further extends influencer Andrew Tate detention

Updated 14 min 56 sec ago

Romania further extends influencer Andrew Tate detention

  • Tate, 36, and his brother Tristan, 34, were arrested in late December
  • Their detention has been extended every month since then by Romanian judges

BUCHAREST: A Romanian court on Wednesday extended the detention of controversial influencer Andrew Tate while he’s being investigated along with his brother for alleged human trafficking and rape.
Tate, 36, and his brother Tristan, 34, were arrested in late December, and their detention has been extended every month since then by Romanian judges.
Under Romania’s legal system, pre-trial detention can be extended to a maximum of 180 days, pending possible indictment.
The Bucharest Tribunal ruled to extend their detention by a further 30 days, a decision which can be appealed.
The latest extension left the brothers “speechless,” their media team said.
“The substantial material damages they have suffered are nothing compared to the moral ones. Their image has been irreparably harmed,” it said.
The brothers continue to deny all charges brought against them.
Tate, a British-American former kickboxer who has millions of online followers, along with his younger brother and two Romanian women, are under investigation for allegedly “forming an organized criminal group, human trafficking and rape.”
As part of the probe, Romanian police raided several properties connected to the Tate brothers and seized many of their assets, including a collection of luxury cars.
A court document from January said that one woman was “recruited” from the UK after she fell in love with Andrew Tate, who then brought her to Romania “with the goal of sexual exploitation.”
In 2016, Tate appeared on the “Big Brother” reality television show in Britain but was removed after a video emerged showing him attacking a woman.
He then turned to social media platforms to promote his divisive views before being banned for misogynistic remarks and hate speech.
Tate was allowed back on Twitter after the South African billionaire Elon Musk bought the company.


Pakistani parliament’s ruling sought over ex-PM Khan’s party

Updated 22 March 2023

Pakistani parliament’s ruling sought over ex-PM Khan’s party

  • The ruling was asked for in a joint session of parliament convened over the instability caused by the crisis over Khan
  • The clashes erupted after Khan's supporters prevented police and paramilitary forces from arresting him

LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday sought a parliament ruling to empower authorities to tackle former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party’s alleged involvement in violence.
The ruling was asked for in a joint session of parliament convened over the instability caused by the crisis over Khan.
Sanaullah told the house nearly 68 security personnel were injured in clashes and 16 arrested Khan aides will be tried on terrorism charges.
The clashes erupted after Khan’s supporters prevented police and paramilitary forces from arresting him in a case in which he is accused of unlawfully selling state gifts during his tenure as premier from 2018-2022. He denies any wrongdoing.
The minister requested the house give “guidance” to the government about the violence stoked by Khan’s supporters, who he said included “miscreants, armed groups, and terrorists.”
“It is required that the security forces should be given authority and other measures to deal with this issue,” he said, adding that Khan’s agenda is “chaos and anarchy.”
The government has alleged that Khan’s supporters had militants among them and ministers have called for proscribing Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
Khan has rejected the allegation, saying that the government wanted his party out of politics.
The former premier has demanded snap elections since he was ousted in a parliamentary vote of confidence in April last year.
Khan’s successor Shehbaz Sharif has said that a general election will be held as scheduled later this year.


Nobel Peace committee ‘deplores’ actions against Russia’s Memorial

Updated 22 March 2023

Nobel Peace committee ‘deplores’ actions against Russia’s Memorial

  • "The Norwegian Nobel Committee deplores the arrest of and legal actions taken against Jan Rachinsky and other leading members of Memorial," Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the committee, said
  • The rights group said Tuesday that Russian authorities had opened a criminal case against Oleg Orlov for "discrediting" the army

OSLO: The Nobel Committee in charge of the Peace Prize on Wednesday condemned the legal actions and what it called “unfounded” charges against members of the prize-winning Russian human rights organization Memorial.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee deplores the arrest of and legal actions taken against Jan Rachinsky and other leading members of Memorial,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the committee, said in a statement.
“The charges made against them are unfounded and must be dropped,” she said.
The rights group said Tuesday that Russian authorities had opened a criminal case against Oleg Orlov, the co-chair of Memorial, for “discrediting” the army.
The announcement came after security officials raided the homes of several Memorial employees including Orlov, 69, and Rachinsky, its 64-year-old co-founder, earlier in the day.
Memorial established itself as a pillar of civil society by preserving the memory of victims of communist repression and campaigning against rights violations in Russia under President Vladimir Putin.
The raids took place after investigators accused Memorial staff of allegedly including World War Two-era Nazi collaborators on their list of victims of political terror, the organization said.
Memorial was disbanded by Russian authorities in late 2021, just months before Putin sent troops to Ukraine.
“(I have) constant pain and shame for the horror that our army is creating in a neighboring sovereign state,” Orlov told AFP last year.
Memorial received the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize along with the jailed Belorusian activist Ales Bialiatski and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties.
Rachinsky said last year that the prize came as a surprise and would give all Russian rights defenders “new strength and inspiration.”
After the start of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, Russian authorities expanded a crackdown on dissent, jailing or pushing into exile nearly all prominent Kremlin critics.
Public criticism of Moscow’s assault on Ukraine is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.


Slovakia offered $1bn in US arms in trade-off for Ukraine aid

Updated 22 March 2023

Slovakia offered $1bn in US arms in trade-off for Ukraine aid

  • "If we don't take them, they will go to another country," Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad said on Facebook
  • Slovakia announced on Friday that it would donate the MiG warplanes to Ukraine

BRATISLAVA: Slovakia on Wednesday said it had received a US offer of $1 billion in helicopters and missiles at a discounted rate in compensation for promising to send MiG-29 warplanes to Ukraine.
“We were the first to receive this extremely advantageous offer. If we don’t take them, they will go to another country,” Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said on Facebook.
“The value of this material is slightly over $1 billion... Slovakia would pay around $340 million over a period of three to four years,” he added.
The offer includes 12 new Bell AH-1Z Viper helicopters with accessories, pilot and technician training, along with more than 500 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, he said.
He noted that the offer was notably in compensation for the fighter jets that Bratislava had recently promised Ukraine.
“So let’s summarise: for 13 old MiGs and a part of the KUB air defense system, we have an offer” from the United States, he said.
Slovakia announced on Friday that it would donate the MiG warplanes to Ukraine, the second NATO member — following Poland — to pledge the aircraft.
The batch will include 10 operational MiG-29 fighter jets and an additional three to be used as spare parts. The KUB air defense system is also Soviet-era weaponry.
Slovakia plans to replace the jets with American F-16s, and the changeover should take place no later than January 2024.
Nad said Wednesday that the US deal was also intended to make up for the delay in delivering the F-16s.
“Thanks to our responsible defense policy, relations with the US and also our clear support of Ukraine, we were the first to receive this offer,” Nad said.
“It should also be seen in the context of indirect compensation for the delayed F-16 fighters, where we have long demanded some form of compensation.”


UK opens inquiry into unlawful killing claims in Afghanistan

Updated 22 March 2023

UK opens inquiry into unlawful killing claims in Afghanistan

  • Britain's government ordered the inquiry after lawyers brought legal challenges on behalf of the families of eight Afghans
  • Senior judge Charles Haddon-Cave said: "This is critical, both for the reputation of the armed forces and the country"

LONDON: A senior judge launched an independent inquiry Wednesday to investigate whether UK military police covered up or did not properly probe allegations of unlawful killings by British armed forces in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2013.
Britain’s government ordered the inquiry after lawyers brought legal challenges on behalf of the families of eight Afghans who were allegedly killed by British special forces during nighttime raids in 2011 and 2012.
Senior judge Charles Haddon-Cave said his team would “get to the bottom” of whether investigations carried out by the Royal Military Police were adequate.
“It is clearly important that anyone who has broken the law is referred to the relevant authorities for investigation. Equally, those who have done nothing wrong should rightly have the cloud of suspicion lifted from them,” Haddon-Cave said Wednesday. “This is critical, both for the reputation of the armed forces and the country.”
The inquiry into two separate incidents will also review whether the deaths “formed part of a wider pattern of extra-judicial killings by British armed forces in Afghanistan at the time.”
Thousands of British troops were deployed to Afghanistan as part of a two-decade-long NATO-led campaign in the country following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Many British soldiers engaged in heavy fighting with insurgents in southern Helmand province.
Britain ended all combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014, although a small number of troops stayed to train Afghan security forces until 2021, when the international coalition withdrew from the country.
Haddon-Cave said many hearings would have to be held behind closed doors for national security reasons.
Leigh Day, the law firm representing the families, said Ministry of Defense documents showed officers had widespread knowledge about unlawful killings by UK special forces in Afghanistan but did not report the information to military police.

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