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Turkey disaster relief continues as death toll hits 29,000

Rescue efforts are hampered by localized insecurity as Turkish police detain numerous people for looting.

On Saturday, five days after the first earthquake that shook Turkey and Syria, rescuers continued to pluck some people from the rubble, but they were losing optimism that they would find many more.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey on Monday is the most devastating since 1939, and the death toll is rising. Over 4,500 additional people were confirmed dead in Syria, bringing the total number of fatalities there to over 9,000. The death toll in Turkey approached 24,600.

The capital of Turkey’s Hatay province, Antakya, has been completely destroyed, but there is still some optimism, according to Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, who is reporting from there.

There is still some hope even though it has been 135 hours since the earthquakes. A toddler was saved in the 132nd hour, and a couple of hours earlier, a man and a woman were saved. The hunt for survivors is still ongoing, according to Smith.

The airport in the city will be reopened by the government within a day, he continued.

“The airport runway had significant damage. They said that they were going to re-tarmac. For relief flights, this will be crucial. Aid is desperately needed, according to Smith. When confronted with criticism regarding earthquake response and planning, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that authorities should have moved more quickly.

arrests of thieves

Ransacking has been described as making their already difficult duty even more difficult by volunteers in Antakya. Erdogan promised to use severe punishment for looters.

He visited the disaster area and declared a state of emergency. The state’s “strong hand is on their backs,” he continued, “which means that going forward, those who are involved in looting or kidnapping should know that.” Before he left the city for a village, one local claimed to have seen looting during the early hours following Monday’s earthquake.

Mehmet Bok, 26, who is back in Antakya and looking for a coworker in a collapsed building, claimed that “people were destroying the windows and gates of shops and cars.”

Turkish officials, according to state media, have detained 48 looters. The accused were detained as part of investigations into looting in eight separate provinces.

Some rescue organizations also claimed that conflicts amongst individuals caused them to halt their operations.

Due to reports of shooting, two German rescue and humanitarian organizations on Saturday decided to halt their efforts. A squad from Austria also took a quick break before continuing.

Millions of homeless: UN

The United Nations estimated that up to 5.3 million Syrians may now be homeless as a result of the earthquakes, and approximately 900,000 people in Turkey and Syria urgently require access to hot food.

Despite a promise from Damascus to enhance access, very little help had reached the rebel-held region in northwest Syria that sustained the biggest earthquake damage to the country but where recovery operations are hindered by civil strife.

Turkish officials also confirmed that they are seeking to establish two new entry points into the Syrian regions controlled by rebels.

According to Turkey, 1.05 million individuals who were made homeless by the earthquakes were staying in temporary housing while 80,000 people were receiving medical attention in hospitals.

16 infants were among those receiving treatment; they were moved by Turkish officials from the earthquake’s epicenter, Kahramanmaras, to the nation’s capital, Ankara.

From Ankara, Al Jazeera’s Sinem Koseoglu stated, “All of them have been identified, but the authorities have not been able to approach their families.”

The authorities are looking for the families of these babies while they struggle for their life in the ICU, she said.

Until they are stronger, the premature newborns will stay in the intensive care unit. Foster mothers chosen by the government will look after the others.

Ferit Kulal, the head doctor at the hospital where the infants have been transported, stated that “the newborns are in good shape.” “One baby arrived at 28 weeks and the other at 33. We will arrange for their release after their exams are finished, he stated.

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