Earthquake: Turkey stops research except in two provinces, Blinken visits

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Earthquake: Turkey halts search except in two provinces, Blinken visits

Some 105,000 buildings collapsed or were severely damaged in Turkey after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

Turkey decided on Sunday, 14 days after the February 6 earthquake, to stop the majority of research, while the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, meanwhile went there to follow up. the humanitarian effort ahead of a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

In many provinces, tracing efforts have ended. They continue in the provinces of Kahramanmaras and Hatay, in about 40 buildings, said Yunus Sezer, the head of the government relief agency (AFAD).

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated the south of the country and Syria killed 40,689 people in Turkey, according to the latest official report released by AFAD on Sunday.

No new survivors have been cleared from the ruins for more than 24 hours, after a couple were rescued in Antakya, capital of Hatay province, on Saturday, 296 hours later the earthquake.

Destroyed buildings in Hatay province, Turkey, February 16, 2023.

In the past three days, seven people were pulled alive from the rubble, all in Antakya, including the couple's child who died shortly after being rescued.

In the province of Kahramanmaras, where the epicenter was located, the chances of survival appeared slimmer than in Hatay due to the cold, which reached -15°C at night in snowy areas such as Elbistan, Agence France-Presse (AFP) teams noted.

Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay reported on Saturday that 105,000 buildings had collapsed or been severely damaged and will be demolished.

More than 6,000 aftershocks have been recorded since the disaster, including one with a magnitude of 6, 6 and 40 with an intensity of 5 to 6, depending on the relief organization.

In a message broadcast via Twitter, AFAD asks the victims not to try to enter the damaged buildings to recover goods, even briefly.

C' is hard to leave, we have a lot of memories here, my daughters were born here, we got married here, sighs Bilal Jawir, a construction worker preparing to leave the city of Antakya, very affected by the earthquake. His house is still standing, but its stability uncertain.

The cold and the difficult access to drinking water make the living conditions deplorable in this locality of Hatay, Turkey.

On Tuesday, Head of State Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that 2.2 million people had self-evacuated the stricken provinces.

AFAD recalled that more than 265,000 Turkish relief personnel had been deployed in the affected areas, including its teams, those of the army and the gendarmerie , volunteers and NGOs.

In addition, nearly 11,500 rescue workers from overseas have joined the search and rescue efforts, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. foreign.

Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, landed at Incirlik Air Base in the southeast of the country from Munich, where he was attending a security conference.

< p class="e-p">It is from this base that part of the humanitarian aid, in particular American, is routed to the disaster areas.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived at Incirlik Air Base near Adana on Sunday for an official visit.

The secretary of state, whose visit to Turkey was supposed to take place before the earthquake, is due to meet in the afternoon with military and humanitarian officials who are coordinating American disaster assistance, in addition to realize the ongoing humanitarian effort in Hatay province, according to US sources.

From the day after the earthquake, which also hit northern Syria , the United States has deployed several search and rescue teams to Turkey, approximately 200 personnel, and released an initial tranche of US$85 million (just over C$130 million) in humanitarian assistance.

On Sunday, Mr. Blinken announced an additional US$100 million (C$153 million) in disaster relief.

This is the Secretary's first trip of State in Turkey since taking office two years ago.

The two countries, allies in NATO, maintain sometimes tumultuous relations. Turkey describes in particular as terrorists the Syrian Kurds of the YPG (People's Protection Units), spearheading the fight against the jihadists of the Islamic State, supported by an international coalition led by Washington.

< p class="e-p">But the United States recognizes that its ally has a constructive role in the war in Ukraine in particular.

Among the disputes is the potential sale of F-16 fighter jets promised by President Joe Biden to Turkey, but which remains blocked by the opposition of Congress, and the Turkish blockage of the adhesion of Finland and Sweden to NATO.

After Turkey, Mr. Blinken will conclude his European tour in Athens, Greece, where he will have a series of talks with the authorities of this country, historical rival of Turkey, but also a partner in NATO.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has Confirmed on Thursday that the quake could be an opportunity to redefine the hitherto stormy relationship between Turkey and Greece, which was one of the very first European countries to dispatch rescue teams.

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