Turkey-Syria earthquake: Death toll tops 41,000, Erdogan under fire for shoddy construction

Turkey-Syria earthquake: Death toll tops 41,000, Erdogan under fire for shoddy construction
The death toll from the earthquake has crossed 41,000 as public anger in Turkey is directed towards their government for allowing property developers to build thousands of shoddy structures which were brutally exposed during the earthquake.
7 min read
15 February, 2023

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the state needed to enforce stricter building regulations in the country as he faces growing criticism for allegedly regularising thousands of poorly-built structures over the past several years. 

The combined death toll in Turkey and Syria has climbed over 41,000, and many survivors are enduring near-freezing winter temperatures as they have been left homeless by the devastation in cities in both countries. Hundreds of thousands of others have been injured, as  rescue and recovery efforts continue to press on.

Several reports have surfaced over the past few days that Erdogan is facing a severe backlash at home for granting an amnesty to companies that had constructed shoddy buildings, which were brutally exposed during last week's earthquakes.

In a televised speech on Tuesday, the Turkish President said that "collapsed buildings reminded the government of the need for stricter construction rules."

The damage assessment would be completed within a week and reconstruction would start in three months, he said. 

"We will rebuild all the houses and workplaces, destroyed or made uninhabitable by the earthquake, and hand them over to the rightful owners," he added.

Prosecutors have reportedly issued arrest warrants for scores of property developers as the death toll continues to rise. 

5:40 PM
The New Arab Staff

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5:12 PM
The New Arab Staff


Misinformation 'hindering relief efforts' after Turkey-Syria quake: UK fact-checkers

Misinformation across social media platforms is "hindering earthquake relief efforts" in Turkey, according to an editor at a British fact-checking charity.

False information posted online may "ruin lives" as it could see relief efforts for the 7.8-magnitude quake that hit Syria and Turkey misdirected, Full Fact's assistant editor Abbas Panjwani wrote in an opinion piece for The Guardian published Tuesday.

"False information can directly hinder aid and disaster relief… it’s crucial that those working on the relief efforts have access to good information online… When bad information spreads, it can ruin lives," Panjwani wrote.

"People and organisations may be using footage they see online to help identify those affected… the last thing they need to see is their social media feeds clogged with misinformation," he added.

Read the full story here

2:43 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Disease the new threat as Turkey faces post-earthquake water shortage

With much of the region's sanitation infrastructure damaged or rendered inoperable by last Monday's two 7.8- and 7.6-magnitude earthquakes, Turkish health authorities face a daunting task in trying to ensure that survivors, many homeless, now remain disease-free.

Akin Hacioglu, a doctor at the clinic of an open-air stadium serving as a camp for displaced people in the city of Kahramanmaras told Reuters between 15 and 30 medics operated the facility, the only one of its kind at the camp, which serves up to 10,000 people during the day.

They are offering tetanus shots to residents who request them, and distributing hygiene kits with shampoo, deodorant, pads and wipes, Hacioglu said.

Hundreds of earthquake survivors have been moved to camps such as this one in Kahramanmaras, where authorities are struggling to provide adequate water and sanitation [Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images]

Several earthquake survivors told the news agency that they had not been able to rinse off or clean themselves, or even change their clothes since the earthquake. 

In the city of Antakya, further south towards the Syrian border, greater numbers of portable toilets are in evidence than during the first days after the quake, but many residents say still more are needed.

Batyr Berdyklychev, the World Health Organization's representative in Turkey, said the water shortage "increases the risk of waterborne diseases and outbreaks of communicable diseases."

The WHO was working with local authorities to step up monitoring of waterborne diseases, seasonal influenza and COVID-19 among those displaced, he added.


1:22 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Armenia's humanitarian aid could help restore ties with Turkey: Turkish foreign minister

Humanitarian aid sent by Armenia for victims of last week's devastating earthquake in Turkey could boost the neighbouring countries' efforts to normalise their relations, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.

A border gate between the long-feuding neighbours was opened for the first time in 35 years to allow aid for quake victims in southern Turkey. Armenia also sent a rescue team to Turkey to help in the search for survivors.

"Armenia has extended its hand of friendship, showed solidarity and cooperation with us in this difficult time ... We need to continue this solidarity," Cavusoglu said at a joint news conference in Ankara with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan.

"The normalisation process in the southern Caucasus region is going on. We believe that our cooperation in the humanitarian field will support this process," Cavusoglu added.

Mirzoyan said through a translator that Armenia remained committed to "the full normalisation of relations and complete opening of the border with Turkey".

12:25 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Syrian tribes get quake aid across frontline to northwest

An aid convoy has reached earthquake-hit northwestern Syria from the eastern Deir ez-Zor province, an example of assistance making it across a frontline of the country's 11-year-long civil war since the disaster struck more than a week ago.

Organised by Arab tribes, trucks loaded with blankets, food, medical supplies and tents arrived overnight in the insurgent-held rebel northwest from a region controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Reuters witness said.

More aid was being collected, said Hamoud Saleh al-Darjah, an organiser. The aid would be distributed in the north without discrimination, he said. "This isn't the last campaign," he said.


11:45 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkey arrests 78 over earthquake social media posts

Turkish police said they have arrested 78 people accused of creating fear and panic by "sharing provocative posts" about last week's earthquake on social media, adding 20 of them were being held in pre-trial detention.

The death toll in Turkey and Syria from the devastating earthquake has climbed above 41,000, and millions are in need of humanitarian aid.

Turkey's General Directorate of Security said it had identified 613 people accused of making provocative posts, and legal proceedings had been initiated against 293. Of this group, the chief prosecutor had ordered the arrest of 78.

The directorate added that 46 websites were shut down for running "phishing scams" trying to steal donations for quake victims and 15 social media accounts posing as official institutions were closed.

Live Story

Last week Turkey blocked access to Twitter for about 12 hours from Wednesday afternoon to early Thursday, citing the spread of disinformation, prompting an angry response from opposition politicians and people using the platform to find loved ones and share information about rescue efforts.

10:57 AM
The New Arab Staff

Gilboa prison-breakers offer condolences to earthquake victims 

Two of six Palestinians who broke out of a high-security Israeli prison in September 2021 have offered their condolences to the victims of the devastating Turkey-Syria earthquake.

Gilboa Prison escapees Mahmoud Al-Ardah and Yaqoub Al-Qadri said in an Israeli court during appeal proceedings Tuesday: "We offer condolences to the Syrian and Turkish peoples… we count the victims as martyrs."

9:26 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Jordan's foreign minister arrives in Syria to show 'solidarity' in first high-level visit since Syrian conflict began

Jordan's foreign minister Ayman Safadi arrived in Syria on Wednesday in a "show of solidarity" after the quake that killed thousands of people in Syria and Turkey countries.

Jordan, which neighbours Syria, has sent large shipments of aid to both countries with the kingdom sending a medical hospital to Turkey and organising several large aid convoys through the country's northern border crossing with Syria.

The visit by Safadi to Damascus is the first such trip by a top Jordanian official to Syria since the more than decade-long conflict that devastated Syria and saw both sides take opposing camps.

"Safadi will discuss the humanitarian and aid needs that the two countries need," a statement from the foreign ministry said before his arrival in Damascus, adding that another aid plane will fly to both countries on Wednesday.


9:15 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Woman rescued from ruins in Turkey 222 hours after powerful quake

A 42-year-old woman was rescued from the rubble of a building in the southern Turkish city of Kahramanmaras on Wednesday, almost 222 hours after a devastating earthquake struck the region, Turkish media reported.

TV footage showed rescue workers carrying the woman, named Melike Imamoglu, strapped onto a stretcher, to an ambulance.


5:40 PM
The New Arab Staff

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