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Hope Fading As Deaths In Turkey, Syria Quake Pass 11,000

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GAZIANTEP, Turkey — Rescue teams in Turkey and Syria looked for signs of life in the rubble of thousands of buildings destroyed by the world’s deadliest earthquake in more than a decade on Wednesday, when the chances of finding survivors were getting slimmer. The confirmed death toll has surpassed 11,000 people.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a visit to the particularly hard-hit Hatay province, where over 3,300 people were killed, and entire neighborhoods were destroyed. Residents have criticized the government’s response, claiming that rescuers arrived too slowly.

Erdogan, who faces a tough reelection battle in May, acknowledged “shortcomings” in responding to Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake but blamed it on winter weather. The earthquake damaged the runway at Hatay Airport, further complicating the response.

“Preparing for such a disaster is impossible,” Erdogan said. “We will not abandon any of our citizens.” He also slammed critics, calling them “dishonorable people” who spread “lies and slander” about the government’s response.

Turkish authorities claim to be combating disinformation, and an internet monitoring group reported that access to Twitter was restricted, despite survivors using it to alert rescuers.

In Syria and Turkey, search teams from more than a dozen countries have joined thousands of local first responders. However, the scale of destruction caused by the earthquake and its powerful aftershocks was so massive and spread over such a large area — including a region isolated by Syria’s ongoing civil war — that many people were still waiting for help.

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People Rush To Save The Turkey People

Experts said that people who were stuck under the rubble or couldn’t get what they needed were running out of time to stay alive. At the same time, they stated that it was too soon to give up hope.

“The first 72 hours are critical,” according to Steven Godby, a natural hazards expert at Nottingham Trent University in England. “The average survival ratio within 24 hours is 74%, 22% after 72 hours, and 6% by the fifth day.”

Rescuers occasionally used excavators or picked carefully through debris. With thousands of buildings destroyed, it was unclear how many people were still trapped beneath the rubble.

According to Ozel Pikal, who saw eight bodies pulled from the ruins of a building in the Turkish city of Malatya, bodies were placed side by side on the ground and covered in blankets while rescuers waited for vehicles to pick them up.

Pikal, who assisted in the rescue efforts, believes at least some of the victims died as temperatures dropped to minus 6 degrees Celsius (21 Fahrenheit).

“There is no hope left in Malatya as of today,” Pikal said over the phone. “No one is emerging from the rubble alive.”

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A Horrible Hit For The ALready Impacted Syrian People

Road closures and damage in the area made it difficult to reach all areas needing assistance, he said, and there needed to be more rescuers where he was. Meanwhile, the cold weather hampered those who were present, including volunteers.

“Because of the cold, our hands can’t pick up anything,” Pikal explained. “Working machines are required.”

Syria’s civil war had already lasted more than a decade in the region. Millions of Syrians have been displaced, and millions have sought refuge in Turkey.

Turkey’s president announced that the country’s death toll had surpassed 9,000. According to the Syrian Health Ministry, the death toll in government-held areas has surpassed 1,200. According to the volunteer first responders known as the White Helmets, at least 1,400 people have died in the rebel-held northwest.

This brought the total to 11,600. Thousands more have been injured.

Rescue stories continued to give hope that some of those still trapped might be found alive. A crying newborn still connected to her deceased mother by the umbilical cord was rescued in Syria on Monday. Rescuers pulled a 3-year-old boy from the rubble in Turkey’s Kahramanmaras.

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The Actual Death Toll In Turkey Could Take Weeks

However, David Alexander, a professor of emergency planning and management at University College London, said that data from previous earthquakes indicated that the chances of survival were now slim, particularly for those who suffered serious injuries.

“Statistically, today is when we’ll stop finding people,” he predicted. “That doesn’t mean we should give up looking.”

Because of the sheer volume of rubble, Alexander warned that the final death toll could take weeks to determine.

The last earthquake that killed so many people was in 2015 when a magnitude 7.8 quake struck Nepal. A tsunami was triggered by an earthquake in Japan in 2011, killing nearly 20,000 people.

Many who survived the earthquake lost their homes and were forced to sleep in cars, in government shelters, or outside in some areas due to rain and snowfall.

“We don’t have a tent, a heating stove, or anything else. “Our children are in bad shape,” said Aysan Kurt, 27. “We did not die of hunger or the earthquake, but we will die of cold.”

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People Arrested For Looting

The disaster comes at a critical juncture for Erdogan, who is dealing with an economic downturn and high inflation. Perceptions that his administration mishandled the crisis could harm his standing. He stated that the government would give affected families 10,000 Turkish lire ($532) each.

The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, blamed the devastation on Erdogan’s two-decade rule, saying he had not prepared the country for a disaster and accusing him of misusing funds.

Police said they had detained 18 people and identified more than 200 social media accounts suspected of “spreading fear and panic” in their efforts to combat disinformation related to the earthquake response.

According to NetBlocks, access to Twitter is restricted to multiple internet providers in Turkey. Trapped survivors used Twitter to alert rescuers and loved ones, while others used it to criticize the government’s response.

There has been no official response to the restrictions. The government has periodically restricted access to social media during national emergencies and terror attacks, citing national security.

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UN Has Sent Help To Turkey

Aid efforts in Syria have been hampered by the ongoing conflict and the isolation of the rebel-held border region, surrounded by Russia-backed government forces. Syria is an international pariah due to Western sanctions related to the war.

The European Union announced on Wednesday that Syria had requested humanitarian assistance to assist earthquake victims. An E.U. representative insisted that the bloc’s sanctions against the Syrian government had no bearing on its ability to assist.

Muhannad Hadi, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Syria, said Wednesday that due to damaged roads, there still needs to be access to the Bab al-Hawa border crossing into rebel-held Syria, the only terminal where U.N. aid can be delivered.

Using other crossings or sending aid across conflict lines from Damascus necessitates “multiple levels of coordination between different parties, security, humanitarian, and non-governmental organizations,” he said. “This is not a simple operation.”

Critics have accused the Syrian government of deliberately slowing the process to cut off support to rebel-held areas.

Turkey is situated on major fault lines and is frequently jolted by earthquakes. In 1999, similar powerful earthquakes struck northwest Turkey, killing 18,000 people.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

World

Vatican Museums Staff Challenge The Pope With A Legal Bid For Better Terms And Treatment

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ROME — In an uncommon public challenge to Pope Francis’ leadership, 49 Vatican Museums employees have launched a class-action complaint with the Vatican administration, asking for higher seniority, leave, and overtime benefits.

The complaint, dated April 23 and published this weekend in Italian newspapers, also claimed that staff faced health and security hazards as a result of cost-cutting and apparent profit-generating activities at the museum, such as congestion and fewer security guards to keep tourists at bay.

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Vatican Museums Staff Challenge The Pope With A Legal Bid For Better Terms And Treatment

An email seeking comment received no response from the Vatican spokesman or Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, chief of the City State administration that oversees the museums.

The complaint is the latest judicial challenge highlighting how the Vatican’s laws, regulations, and procedures frequently conflict with Italian and European principles. Recently, civil and criminal cases have revealed how employees, particularly lay Italian nationals, have little or no legal recourse outside the city state’s unique court system, an absolute monarchy in which Francis wields supreme executive, legislative, and judicial power.

Museum employees cited the Catholic Church’s social teaching and Francis’ appeals to employers to respect workers’ dignity when requesting better treatment in the class-action complaint that senior Vatican attorney Laura Sgro filed and signed on behalf of the 49 employees.

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Vatican Museums Staff Challenge The Pope With A Legal Bid For Better Terms And Treatment

They sought, among other things, greater transparency about how staff might develop, the reinstatement of seniority bonuses, and the Vatican’s adherence to Italian sick-day policies. According to the complaint, employees are currently required to stay at home all day, rather than just a few hours, to await a potential visit to ensure that they are not simply taking the day off.

According to Vatican labor standards, Verzaga has 30 days to react to the allegation. If no talks commence, Sgro can take the claims to the Vatican’s labor office in an attempt to reach a negotiated settlement, which might lead to a tribunal. However, the office can refuse to hear the case, and lawyers say this happens frequently, leaving the employees with no other options.

In recent instances before the Vatican tribunal, lawyers have indicated that they may seek to take employees’ grievances about the system to the European Court of Human Rights. The Holy See is neither a member of the court nor a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. However, some lawyers believe the Vatican committed to maintaining European human rights standards when it ratified the European Union Monetary Convention in 2009.

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Vatican Museums Staff Challenge The Pope With A Legal Bid For Better Terms And Treatment

The Museums are one of the principal sources of money, funding the Holy See bureaucracy, which serves as the official authority for the Catholic Church. The museums, which have experienced significant financial losses as a result of COVID-19 closures and limitations, raised the price of a full-price ticket to 20 euros ($21.50) at the beginning of the year, up from 17 euros.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Entertainment

Eurovision Explained, From ABBA To Zorra, As The Israel-Hamas War Overshadows The Song Contest

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Malmö, Sweden – Scores of musicians, hundreds of journalists, and thousands of music enthusiasts have converged in Malmo, Sweden, as the Eurovision Song Contest prepares for Saturday’s jubilant, glitter-drenched finale.

But even Eurovision cannot avoid the world’s divisions. Thousands of pro-Palestinian protestors are expected in the city to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict and criticize Israel’s participation in the event.

Here’s an introduction to what Eurovision is, how it operates, and what to look for.

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What is Eurovision?

The short answer is that Eurovision is a music competition in which performers from around Europe and beyond compete under their national flags for the title of continental champion. Consider these the pop music Olympics.

The longer explanation is that Eurovision is an event that combines pop, partying, and politics, resembling a music festival, an awards show, and a United Nations Security Council meeting. It’s a crazy joyful festival that celebrates music’s unifying powerbut it’s also a venue for politics and regional rivalries.

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How does it work?

This year, the tournament will be held over many days in the Swedish coastal city of Malmo, which has entries from 37 countries. The country is hosting after Swedish singer Loreen won the competition last year in Liverpool, England.

After two semifinals, the artists have been reduced to 25, and they will compete in Saturday’s final in front of thousands of fans in the Malmo Arena and a global broadcast audience estimated at 180 million.

In an unusual move, the 26th finalist, Joost Klein of the Netherlands, was removed from the competition on Saturday due to “a complaint made by a female member of the production crew” that is being probed by police, according to organizers.

Nations may enter a solo act or a band. They can perform in any genre or language, but the regulations require them to sing live and limit their songs to three minutes. Staging has become increasingly extravagant, with spectacular pyrotechnics and sophisticated dance. This year is very great for topless male dancers.

After all of the acts have been performed, the winner is determined by a notoriously complex combination of phone and online votes from all around the world and rankings by music-industry juries in each Eurovision country. As the results are announced, countries move up and down the standings, and tensions rise. Ending up with “nul points,” or zero, is considered a national shame.

Eurovision’s musical style has evolved drastically since its inception in 1956. The early years of crooners and ballads gave way to cheery pop, as exemplified by possibly the greatest Eurovision song of all time, ABBA’s “Waterloo,” which won 50 years ago.

Euro-techno and power ballads are popular nowadays, but viewers choose rock, folk rap, and odd, unclassifiable music.

According to bookies, Swiss singer Nemo is a top contender, delivering “The Code,” a beautiful, operatic ballad. Nemo would be the first nonbinary performer to win the contest with a large LGBTQ+ following. A quarter century ago, Dana International became the contest’s first transgender winner.

Another nonbinary singer gaining traction is Ireland’s Bambie Thug, whose song “Doomsday Blue” is Gothic, passionate, over-the-top, and a true crowd-pleaser. They are the only contestants to bring a “scream coach” to Malmo.

Other acts expected to perform well include operatic Slovenian singer Raiven, Ukrainian rap-pop combo Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil, and Spain’s Nebulossa, whose song “Zorra” sparked controversy because its title can be translated as an anti-female slur.

The performer with the most traction is Croatian vocalist Baby Lasagna. His song “Rim Tim Tagi Dim” is classic Eurovision: joyful, humorous, slightly emotional, and immensely catchy. It is already a major fan favorite.

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WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE PROTESTING?

Eurovision’s tagline is “united by music,” its organizer, the European Broadcasting Union, works to keep politics out of the competition. But it frequently intrudes.

Belarus was kicked out of Eurovision in 2021 for its government’s crackdown on opposition, while Russia was kicked out in 2022 for its full-fledged invasion of Ukraine.

This year, there have been requests for Israel’s exclusion due to its actions in the conflict against Hamas.

Israel is competing but was forced to change the title of its song, which was previously titled “October Rain,” in an apparent reference to Hamas’ October 7 cross-border raid. Eden Golan, a 20-year-old vocalist, now performs the song “Hurricane.”

Thousands of pro-Palestinian activists marched through Malmo hours before Golan performed in Thursday’s semifinal, and another is planned for Saturday. Swedish police have launched a large security operation, with officers from throughout the country joined by reinforcements from Denmark and Norway.

SOURCE – (AP)

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AstraZeneca Removes Covid-19 Vaccine from the UK Market

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AstraZeneca Removes Covid-19 Vaccine from the UK Market
AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been superseded by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna: Image AP

AstraZeneca is pulling its Covid-19 vaccine from the UK market less than four years after its debut, citing a “surplus” of vaccines targeting newer strains and declining demand.

On Wednesday, AstraZeneca stated that while it was “proud of the role Vaxzevria played in ending the global pandemic,” the company would no longer manufacture or supply the medicine due to a “surplus of available updated vaccines.”

The decision marks the end of the road for the vaccine, which was developed in partnership with experts at Oxford University within months of the pandemic’s breakout. It was authorized in the UK in late 2020, and over 3 billion doses have been distributed since its debut.

Unlike rivals Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna, AstraZeneca initially used a non-profit approach for its vaccine, selling it “at cost” as part of an agreement with Oxford. The medication was critical in ending the epidemic. However, its deployment was marred by rare cases of blood clotting and disagreements with the European Union over access to medicine.

“According to independent estimates, over 6.5 million lives were saved in the first year of use alone,” AstraZeneca stated, adding that additional COVID-19 vaccines have since been produced, reducing sales of its own medicine.

First Vaccine Approved in the UK

The announcement comes after the pharmaceutical company sought in March that the European Union withdraw its marketing authorization for Vaxzevria, which was granted on Tuesday.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been supplanted by mRNA-based vaccines produced by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna, which are now the most widely used worldwide.

According to the company’s full-year figures, AstraZeneca’s jab generated only $12 million in sales in 2023, compared to nearly $4 billion in 2021. In late 2021, AstraZeneca signed its first for-profit arrangements, claiming the pandemic had entered an “endemic phase.”

The vaccine was approved in the United Kingdom in December 2020 and the European Union in January 2021, but it was never approved in the United States, where authorities criticized the company’s presentation of data on vaccination efficacy.

Overall, the vaccination was safe and effective, but confidence in it dipped in 2021 following a string of rare blood-clotting occurrences, prompting European authorities to restrict its use among younger people.

Jamie Scott is suing the firm, alleging that taking the vaccine caused him to develop a major blood clot. If held accountable, the UK government’s vaccine damage payment plan would compensate for any damages. The business stated that the removal was unrelated to the uncommon blood clotting incidences.

AstraZeneca stated: “We will now work with regulators and our partners to align on a clear path forward to conclude this chapter and significant contribution to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global pharmaceutical corporation based in Cambridge, England. It develops and manufactures various medications to treat various medical ailments. During the COVID-19 epidemic, the business earned headlines for its collaborative efforts to create a vaccine with Oxford University.

Vaxzevria COVID-19 vaccine was one of the first vaccines approved for emergency use worldwide. Despite initial issues with efficacy data and worries about potential adverse effects, the vaccination proved successful in preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19. It was essential in vaccination campaigns throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

Their line of pharmaceuticals extends beyond the COVID-19 vaccine to include cancer, cardiology, respiratory, and metabolic illnesses. The corporation invests substantially in R&D, hoping to bring breakthrough therapies to market. It operates in over 100 countries and employs tens of thousands worldwide.

AstraZeneca has experienced numerous controversies and legal challenges, including litigation involving drug pricing and marketing activities. However, it remains a key player in the pharmaceutical sector, strongly emphasizing scientific research and global health programs. The company’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic has strengthened its position as a major contributor to global public health efforts.

Source: The Financial Times

 

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