Roundup: Quake death toll in Türkiye, Syria crosses 6,000, with calls mounting to lift U.S. sanctions on Syria


  • World
  • Wednesday, 08 Feb 2023

ANKARA/DAMASCUS, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from Monday's devastating earthquakes climbed to 5,434 in Türkiye and 812 in Syria on Tuesday, while calls mounted to lift the U.S. sanctions on Syria.

The number of injured rose to 31,777 and 1,449 respectively in Türkiye and Syria, according to Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and the media office at the Aleppo governorate headquarters.

The death toll in both countries is expected to rise further as the rescue operations are hampered by bad weather.

A powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck Türkiye's southern province of Kahramanmaras at 4:17 a.m. local time (0117 GMT) on Monday, followed by a magnitude 6.4 quake a few minutes later in the country's southern province of Gaziantep and a magnitude 7.6 earthquake at 1:24 p.m. local time (1024 GMT) in Kahramanmaras.

Türkiye's southern province of Hatay and Syria's northern Aleppo city suffered the biggest loss of lives, while Lebanon, Israel and Cyprus also felt the tremor.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency on Tuesday in 10 of the country's provinces hit by the quakes.

The decision was taken in order to ensure that search and rescue activities and subsequent studies can be carried out quickly, he said at a press conference.

CALLS FOR LIFTING U.S. SANCTIONS

As the rescue effort was underway in quake-hit regions, the Syrian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday slammed the U.S. sanctions for blocking the humanitarian work and rescue operations in the war-torn country.

In a statement, the ministry said that the Syrians, while dealing with the earthquake catastrophe, are digging among rubbles with their own hands or using the simplest tools as the equipment for removing the rubbles is banned by the U.S. sanctions.

It also said that the Syrians are also denied access to medicines and medical equipment that would help them face dangers and diseases.

Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) President Khaled Hboubati on Tuesday called for lifting the U.S. and Western sanctions on Syria to facilitate relief efforts as the country is in dire need of rescue equipment.

Speaking at a press conference in Damascus, the Syrian capital, Hboubati stressed that the SARC needs equipment, ambulances and heavy machinery, but "the main obstacle is the sanctions imposed on Syria, which we demand to be lifted immediately."

The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called on different countries to pressure the U.S. to lift the sanctions on Syria.

The ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani made the remarks in an exclusive interview with the semi-official Mehr news agency on Monday, parts of which were released on Tuesday.

He urged other countries to force the U.S. to lift the siege of the Arab state so that international humanitarian aid can be delivered to the quake-stricken people without any obstacle and at the shortest time.

INTERNATIONAL AID POURS IN

Two days into the deadly earthquake, more countries joined the rescue and relief efforts underway in Syria and Türkiye.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, has ordered an aid package totaling 100 million U.S. dollars for earthquake relief in Syria and Türkiye, which will split the aid equally, the Emirates News Agency reported on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the operation of an air bridge to provide various aid to help the earthquake victims in Syria and Türkiye.

The official Saudi Press Agency reported that the air bridge will provide health, shelter, food and logistical assistance to alleviate the effects of the earthquake on the Syrian and Turkish people.

Jordan, for its part, sent on Tuesday humanitarian aid and rescue teams to Syria and Türkiye to help search for survivors.

Lebanon, bordering Syria, also sent on Tuesday morning a delegation to its neighbor to assist the rescue operations in Syria.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi made separate phone calls to his Turkish and Syrian counterparts on Tuesday, extending his condolences to the victims of the deadly earthquakes. On the same day, Egypt sent five military planes loaded with medical supplies to both quake-stricken countries.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday also made separate phone calls to his Turkish and Syrian counterparts, expressing readiness to offer assistance for the relief efforts.

Iran has already sent three batches of humanitarian aid to Syria, Iranian Ambassador to Damascus Mehdi Sobhani was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying on Tuesday.

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