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HomeNews28,000 Dead in Turkey-Syria Earthquake as Rescue Efforts Fade

28,000 Dead in Turkey-Syria Earthquake as Rescue Efforts Fade

28,000 Dead in Turkey-Syria Earthquake as Rescue Efforts Fade

Unrest in southern Turkey has hindered rescue operations in some areas following Monday’s deadly earthquake, according to three rescue organizations.

The death toll from the earthquake in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 28,000, and the likelihood of finding many more survivors is diminishing despite miraculous rescues.

Saturday, German rescuers and the Austrian army suspended search operations due to clashes between unidentified groups.

One rescuer predicted that security will deteriorate as food supplies diminish.

The president of Turkey stated that he would use emergency powers to punish lawbreakers.

ALSO READ: Miraculous Rescue in Turkey-Syria Quake: Infant and Mom Found Alive After Four Days

A spokesperson for the Austrian army reported early Saturday that clashes between unidentified groups in the province of Hatay had forced dozens of personnel from the Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit to seek refuge in a base camp with other international organizations.

Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Kugelweis said in a statement, “Turkish factions are becoming increasingly aggressive.” The likelihood of saving a life is not proportional to the safety risk.

Several hours after Austria halted its rescue efforts, the country’s defense ministry reported that the Turkish army had stepped in to provide protection, allowing Austria to resume its efforts.

The German branch of the international search and rescue organization ISAR and the German Federal Agency for Technical Aid (TSW) has also suspended operations due to security concerns.

“Reports of clashes between factions are increasing, and shots have been fired,” said ISAR spokesperson Stefan Heine.

ALSO READ: Massive 7.8 Quake Kills Over 500 in Turkey and Syria

The operations manager of Isar, Steven Bayer, predicted that security would worsen as food, water, and hope became scarcer.

“We are closely monitoring the security situation as it evolves,” he said.

Reuters reported that German rescue teams stated they would resume operations once Turkish authorities deemed the situation safe.

Saturday, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay announced that the death toll in Turkey has risen to 24,617.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not commented on the reported unrest in Hatay, but he reiterated on Saturday that the government will take action against those responsible for crimes in the region.

Today, Mr. Erdogan declared a state of emergency during a visit to the disaster zone. “From now on, those who engage in looting or kidnapping must be aware of the state’s resolute stance against them.”

According to AFP, state media reported on Saturday that 48 people were arrested for looting. The Turkish state media reported the seizure of firearms, cash, jewelry, and bank cards.

ALSO READ: Quake Devastation in Turkey-Syria: 21,000 Dead, Cold Worsens Despair

A 26-year-old man searching for a coworker in a collapsed building in Antakya told Reuters, “People were breaking shop windows and car fences.”

According to reports, Turkish police have also detained 12 individuals in connection with the collapse of buildings in the provinces of Gaziantep and Sanliurfa. According to the DHA news agency, these included contractors.

Mr. Oktay told reporters late Saturday that 113 arrest warrants have been issued for the buildings, indicating that additional arrests are anticipated.

At least 6,000 buildings collapsed in Turkey, raising questions about whether the widespread tragedy could have been avoided and whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration could have done more to save lives.

After 20 years in office and unanswered calls for national unity, the future of the president is in jeopardy as upcoming elections approach.

Mr. Erdogan has acknowledged deficiencies in the response, but he appears to have attributed them to a visit to one disaster zone: “Such events have always occurred. It is part of the plan of fate.”

Miraculous rescues after 100 hours under rubble
A family of five was rescued on Saturday from the rubble in the province of Gaziantep, Turkey.

The AP news agency reported that the parents, two daughters, and son were rescued from their collapsed home five days later amid shouts of “God is great!”

The same news source reported that a seven-year-old girl was extricated from the rubble in the province of Hatay after 132 hours.

ALSO READ: British Nationals Missing in Turkey-Syria Earthquake

Wednesday, the BBC also released footage of the remarkable rescue of two sisters in Antakya, southern Turkey.

The United Nations aid chief, who was in the Turkish province of Kahramanmaras on Saturday, described the earthquake as the “worst event in this region in 100 years.”

Martin Griffiths told the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Turkey, “I think it’s the worst natural disaster I’ve ever seen, and it’s also the most extraordinary international response I’ve ever seen.”

“More than a hundred countries have sent people here, so the response has been phenomenal, but there is a need,” he added.

Mr. Griffiths has called for the abandonment of regional politics in the face of the disaster, and there are indications that this is occurring.

Saturday marked the first time in 35 years that the Armenian-Turkish border crossing has been reopened to allow humanitarian aid to pass.

Reportedly, the Syrian government has agreed to allow UN aid into opposition-controlled areas, with whom it has been engaged in a bitter civil war since 2011.

ALSO READ: Earthquake in Turkey and Syria: 20,000 Feared Dead, Trapped in Icy Conditions

AFP reports that the death toll in Syria as a result of the earthquake has risen to over 3,500; however, no updated figures have been released since Friday.

There have been complaints that the international aid effort to Syria has been insufficiently rapid.

Ismail al Abdullah of the Syrian Civil Defence Force, also known as the White Helmets, which operates in rebel-held areas, told Quentin Sommerville of the BBC that the organization had ceased searching for survivors.

He stated that the international community has “blood on its hands.” We required rescue equipment that never materialized.

Sivanka Dhanapala, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative for Syria, told AlJazeera that as many as 5,3 million Syrians may be homeless as a result of the earthquake.

“This is an enormous number of people who are joining a population already experiencing mass displacement,” he said.