Quake-ravaged Turkey ends rescue operations in all but two areas
Almost a couple of weeks after a massive earthquake killed tens of thousands of people and made millions of others homeless, Turkey has ended rescue efforts in all but two provinces, the country’s disaster agency informed.
Searches will continue in Hatay and Kahramanmaras, although hopes of finding any more survivors in the rubble are fading fast.
While the combined death toll from the disaster has crossed 45,000 in Turkey and neighbouring Syria, the economic cost is expected to run into billions of dollars. With about 345,000 apartments in Turkey possibly destroyed and scores of people still missing, the death toll is expected to climb.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived Sunday at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Force for an official visit, only taking place two years after he took office. He announced further aid to the quake-ravaged country and said Washington would provide longer-term help to Ankara.
With the recent additional funding, the total US humanitarian assistance to support the earthquake response in the two countries has reached $185 million, the US State Department said.
The new aid “will be moving soon. Sadly, it’s less about search and rescue but long-term recovery,” Blinken told reporters, adding getting aid into war-torn Syria was incredibly challenging.
He took a helicopter ride Sunday with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to observe from above the devastation in Hatay, one of the worst-hit areas.
Blinken will also possibly meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, with the pair expected to discuss Turkey’s refusal to ratify Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership applications, among a number of issues.