Turkey earthquake rescue operations to end, government says

The Turkish Disas­ter and Emergency Management Pres­idency (AFAD) says search and rescue operations have ended in most provinc­es nearly two weeks after this month’s devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

“The death toll due to the earth­quakes rose to 40,642, and the work of searching and rescue for people stuck under the debris has ended in most of the provinces,” Yunis Sezar, head of AFAD, said in a presser on Saturday.

“We believe we will end the search and rescue operations by tomorrow night,” he added.

A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Turkey’s southeast and neighbouring Syria on February 6, killing more than 45,000 people and leaving more than a million people homeless along with an economic cost expected to run into billions of dollars.

“We are in front of perhaps the biggest disaster we have faced in history.

The damage from the earth­quakes and the aftershocks – that were more than 5,700 – were not only restricted to the affected 11 provinces,” Sezar said.

In Syria, more than 5,800 deaths have been reported, mostly in the northwest. The figure has not changed for several days.

The World Health Organisation estimates that some 26 million people across both Turkey and Syria need humanitarian aid.

Twelve days after the earth­quakes, rescue workers from Kyr­gyzstan saved several members of a Syrian family of five on Saturday from the rubble of a building in Antakya in southern Turkey.

Three people, including a child, were rescued. The mother and father survived, but the child died later of dehydration, the rescue team said. An older sister and a twin did not make it.

“We heard shouts when we were digging today an hour ago. When we find people who are alive we are always happy,” Atay Osmanov, a member of the rescue team, told Reuters news agency. —Al jazeera & news agencies

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