Turkey, Syria quake toll rises to greater than 22,000 as search continues

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ISTANBUL, Turkey — Even as their hopes of discovering additional survivors started to fade, rescue employees in earthquake-stricken Turkey continued to tug the residing out of collapsed buildings Friday — together with a mom and her 10-day-old son.

The survivors had been among the many few who had been capable of maintain on for greater than 4 days after a pair of main earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria, in frigid temperatures below the wreckage of their very own houses. The scenes exhibiting them being carried out in stretchers, coated in gold foil blankets, offered uncommon moments of optimism on this ever-expanding tragedy.

In opposition-held Syria, the Syrian Civil Defense Forces, also referred to as the White Helmets, reported solely the restoration of the lifeless Friday, together with an entire family within the metropolis of Salqin and a toddler within the city of Jinderes. The group — working with far fewer assets than rescuers in Turkey — stored digging anyway, at instances with their naked fingers, because the demise toll between the 2 nations surpassed 23,000.

Fourteen help vans entered northwest Syria from Turkey on Friday, the most important such supply to cross into the enclave because the quakes flattened total neighborhoods on each side of the border Monday. An preliminary U.N. help convoy entered the realm on Thursday. U.N. officers have blamed broken roads, gasoline shortages and safety points for the delayed response.

In a information convention Friday, Raed al Saleh, director of the White Helmets, criticized the worldwide neighborhood for not doing extra to assist northwestern Syria.

The United Nations “has not [been] providing anything” to help the group’s rescue efforts, he mentioned, calling for a U.N. investigation into why worldwide assist had arrived in government-held areas however not rebel-held areas. Any new help that arrives won’t have an effect on rescue operations, that are winding down, he mentioned. Instead, help will go towards the removing of rubble and unsteady buildings.

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Still, in some villages, the search continued.

“The search continues, and hopes for life are beginning to wane,” the group tweeted Friday.

Rescue efforts had been slowed in some areas by winter climate, heavy rains, and, in a single Syrian village, a burst dam that prompted widespread flooding.

Planes carrying help from Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Libya arrived at government-controlled airports in Syria on Friday to help the Syrian authorities’s reduction efforts, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited government-held Aleppo together with his spouse, Asma, in his first public go to to the catastrophe zone because the quakes. Images shared by the federal government confirmed them assembly with sufferers at a hospital within the war-ravaged metropolis, the place rescue operations are ongoing.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the meantime, visited devastated areas in his nation’s south, the place he described the quakes because the “disaster of the century.” More than 100,000 people — including soldiers, police officers, firefighters and aid workers — have been called into action in Turkey, and nearly 100 countries have offered help.

More than 250 rescued children in Turkey are still separated from their families, Turkish officials said Friday.

Turkish authorities on Friday detained Mehmet Yasar Coskun, the developer of a luxury apartment complex in the southern city of Antakya that collapsed during the earthquakes, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported. The 12-story apartment complex, called the Renaissance Residence, included 250 condominiums, according to local media reports.

Aerial photos that circulated on social media showed a catastrophic collapse, with large sections of the complex knocked flat to the ground, even as other adjacent apartment blocks remained standing. Hundreds of people were feared trapped in the rubble. Coskun was trying to travel from Istanbul to Montenegro on Friday evening, and was ordered detained by an Istanbul prosecutor, Anadolu said.

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The Rönesans Rezidans apartment building in Atakya collapsed on its side when a massive earthquake struck southern Turkey on Feb. 6. (Video: David Enders for The Washington Post)

The U.S. military began deploying forces to assist with earthquake relief in Turkey, U.S. officials said Friday, with a Navy headquarters overseeing the mission and a Marine Corps general arriving on the ground to assess the scope of support that may be needed.

It was not immediately clear how the U.S. military also might assist in Syria, where the United States maintains a limited counterterrorism mission in the northeastern corner of the country.

Two U.S. urban search and rescue teams have been working over the last 48 hours “day and night” to assist with sufferer restoration within the ruined Turkish metropolis of Adiyaman, Jeffry L. Flake, the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, mentioned in a short interview Friday, detailing the Biden administration’s efforts to help the Turkish authorities because it copes with the nation’s worst catastrophe in many years.

The U.S. teams, based out of Fairfax, VA and Los Angeles, join a host of other foreign rescue teams, including a large contingent from Algeria, that have fanned out at sites of devastation across southern and southeastern Turkey.

The American rescue teams include 160 personnel, a dozen dogs and 170,000 pounds of equipment and “are making good progress,” the ambassador said.

U.S. military helicopters, including heavy-lift rotary wing helicopters and Blackhawks, had brought relief workers from Incirlik Air Base to affected provinces; more helicopters were scheduled to arrive at the base “in the coming days,” Flake said.

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A U.S. field hospital has also been set up in Hatay, another hard-hit province, in coordination with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian disaster-relief organization.

U.S. financial aid had also been allocated to relief efforts in Syria, in both government-controlled and rebel-held parts of the country, through “partner organizations,” Flake said. It was unclear exactly how much of the aid package, totaling $85 million, would be allocated to Syria, which has been isolated because of its civil war as well as western sanctions. The Treasury Department on Thursday issued a general license authorizing transactions related to earthquake relief in Syria for six months.

At least eight U.S. citizens were killed in the earthquakes, John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council, said at a briefing Friday.

Sivanka Dhanapala, the U.N. refugee agency’s representative in Syria, said Friday that access to northwest Syria was affected by damage from the quake. More than 5.3 million affected people in Syria will need shelter, and the agency is currently focusing on life-saving measures including the distribution of tents for the displaced.

O’Grady reported from Dahab, Egypt. Fahim reported from Istanbul. Parker reported from Washington. Zeynep Karatas in Istanbul, Dan Lamothe in Washington, Ellen Francis in London and Niha Masih in Seoul contributed to this report.

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