Hope Fading As Deaths In Turkey, Syria Quake Pass 11,000
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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)
Strike Over Pay Paralyzes Rail, Air Travel In Germany
BERLIN — Trains, aircraft, and public transportation systems were grounded across most of Germany on Monday as labor unions launched a big one-day strike over pay to obtain inflation-busting raises for their members.
The 24-hour strike, one of the country’s largest in decades, also impacted cargo movement by train and ship as workers at the country’s ports and waterways joined the strike.
Many commuters chose to travel to work, generating some traffic delays, while those who could work from home did so.
Unions are seeking a 10.5% pay increase and have rejected employer offers of approximately 5% over two years plus one-time bonuses.
According to Ulrich Silberbach of the Civil Service Federation, high inflation observed everywhere last year affected many workers hard.
“We have seen a drop in real wages, which needs to be balanced,” he told reporters in Berlin, adding that some of his union’s members in major cities must request public assistance to pay their rent.
Silberbach expressed hope that employers will raise their offer in the next discussions or that unions would be forced to consider an open-ended strike.
Three days of talks are scheduled between the two sides.
His EVG train union colleague Martin Burkert noted that workers’ salaries are a fraction of some senior executives’ salaries.
However, Deutsche Bahn dismissed the union’s proposals as overblown and warned that millions of commuters would be affected.
“Thousands of companies that normally send or receive goods by rail will also suffer,” said Achim Strauss, a spokesman for Deutsche Bahn. “In the end, the environment and the climate will suffer.” The oil companies are today’s winners.”
He said that train tickets that couldn’t be used because of the disruption would remain valid, and travelers should check the company’s website for updates.
The strike caused inconvenience and delays Sunday.
Three days of talks are scheduled between the two sides. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, representing the federal government in the talks, said her side would be “tough but fair and constructive” in the discussions.
Faeser expressed confidence that a satisfactory solution may be found.
Labor strikes are common in Germany, and they usually conclude with a compromise agreement reached between unions and employers.
The strike caused inconvenience and delays Sunday as travelers hurried to reach their destinations early.
SOURCE – (AP)
UN Head Says Survival Depends On How People Manage Water In 2023
WATER The United Nations Humanity’s survival depends on how people manage water, said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday at the close of a three-day conference on global water resources, during which developing countries made urgent requests for assistance with cleaner drinking water and better sanitation.
In his final remarks, Guterres stated, “All of humanity’s hopes for the future depend, in some way, on charting a new course to sustainably manage and conserve water.”
He stated that water “needs to be at the center of the global political agenda” and that this implies more aggressive action against climate change.
According to the United Nations World Water Development Report, released on the eve of the conference, 26% of the world’s population—2 billion people — lacks access to safe drinking water, while 46% — 3.6 billion people — lack access to basic sanitation. According to UN studies, nearly half the world’s population will face acute water stress by 2030.
Many rhetorical pledges to enhance water supply were made at the conference, but there needed to be more precise commitments to translate aspirations into better daily lives for regular people.
Throughout the meeting, water-stressed states, particularly those in the developing world
“We have such lovely, ambitious initiatives,” said Lina Taing, senior researcher at the global think tank United Nations University.
“We know that we are completely off track,” she stated, regarding providing them with clean water and sanitation. Taing stated that the world’s actions must be increased “fourfold.”
Throughout the meeting, water-stressed states, particularly those in the developing world, told U.N. members of their need for international aid to provide their people with drinking water and sanitation facilities.
“Waging a war on two fronts at the same time to address water issues and climate change is no easy task, especially for a small island nation like Kiribati, which has very limited resources at its disposal,” said Teburoro Tito, the United Nations representative for the Pacific island nation of fewer than 200,000 people. He claimed that Kiribati was particularly unprepared to deal with natural calamities.
SOURCE – (AP)
1 Million March In France, Unions Call New Pension Protests
PARIS MARCH — After more than a million people rallied across France on Thursday against unpopular pension reforms, French unions called for further statewide strikes and protests the following week, coinciding with King Charles III’s anticipated visit to France.
According to the Interior Ministry, the march in Paris attracted 119,000 participants, setting a record for the city’s capital during the pension demonstrations. However, as were many other marches, the march was plagued by violence. According to polls, most French people are against President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64, which he claims is vital to maintain the system.
The unions quickly announced fresh demonstrations and strikes for Tuesday, the day the British king is expected to visit Bordeaux as part of his trip to France, building on the significant turnout. According to the Sud Ouest newspaper, on Thursday night, participants in an unofficial demonstration set fire to and completely demolished the heavy wooden entrance of the Bordeaux City Hall.
According to the ministry, in cities and towns around the nation on Thursday, more than a million people participated in protest marches.
Gerald Darmanin, the interior minister, went to the police headquarters on Thursday night march as fires were still raging in some Parisian neighborhoods hours after the march had concluded.
The protests were conducted the day after Macron infuriated his detractors even more by refusing to back down on the retirement bill that his administration rushed through parliament without a vote.
The eight unions organizing the protests march stated that “while the (president) tries to turn the page, this social and union movement… confirms the determination of the world of workers and youth to obtain the withdrawal of the reform.” On Tuesday, further nationwide strikes and protests were called for in addition to localized action this weekend.
Thursday night march as fires were still raging in some Parisian neighborhoods
Strikes disrupted travel as demonstrators surrounded ports, refineries, and Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
In Paris, clashes between police and groups wearing black masks that attacked at least two fast food establishments, a supermarket, and a bank reflected the violence’s escalation and diverted attention from the tens of thousands of nonviolent demonstrators.
Police charged repeatedly and fired tear gas to disperse the protestors after being attacked with objects and pyrotechnics. After the march, protesters gathered at the Place de l’Opera, partially obscured by a tear gas haze. The “radical elements,” according to the police, number around 1,000 persons.
Other marches were plagued by violence, particularly in Lyon in the southeast and the western cities of Nantes, Rennes, and Lorient, where an administrative building was stormed, its courtyard set ablaze, and its windows destroyed.
The nine union-organized rallies around the country on Thursday were the ninth to occur since January, when opponents of Macron’s proposal to raise the retirement age still hoped that parliament would reject it. However, the administration used a unique constitutional provision to force it through.
In a French interview on Wednesday, Macron remained steadfast in his belief that new legislation is required to maintain retirement funds. Other suggestions made by opponents included raising taxes on the affluent or businesses, which according to Macron, would harm the economy. He maintained that by the end of the year, the government’s law to raise the retirement age must be implemented.
The proposal now has to be approved by the Constitutional Council. But the opposition won’t give up.
The strikes on Thursday caused the Eiffel Tower and the Versailles Palace.
The chief of the moderate CFDT labor union, Laurent Berger, “We are trying to say before the law is enacted… that we have to find a way out and we continue to say that the way out is the withdrawal of the law.”
Public transportation networks in other significant cities, the Paris metro, and high-speed and regional trains were all affected. At Paris Orly Airport, almost 30% of scheduled flights were canceled.
The strikes on Thursday caused the Eiffel Tower and the Versailles Palace, where the British monarch will dine with Macron, to be shuttered.
Violence, a regular problem during demonstrations, has been worse recently. 12,000 security personnel, including 5,000 in Paris, would be on French streets on Thursday, according to Gerald Darmanin.
In a statement, the Education Ministry stated that 15% of instructors in high schools and roughly 24% of primary and intermediate school teachers took a sick day on Thursday.
Several hundred strikers wielding flares and yelling, “Macron, go away,” marched on the Paris Gare de Lyon train station rails to stop trains from moving. They were carrying flares.
Maxime Monin, 46, expressed concern that his and other public transportation workers’ holidays this year might be less enjoyable. He emphasized that such workers are not paid on strike days. But the price was worthwhile.
A bus depot in Pantin, in the northern suburbs of Paris, was blocked by several dozen union members during rush hour, preventing 200 vehicles from leaving.
A 48-year-old bus driver involved in the protest, Nadia Belhoum, condemned Macron’s choice to push through the higher retirement age.
She declared, “The president of the Republic is not a monarch, and he should listen to his people.
SOURCE – (AP)
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