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Turkey-Syria earthquake: Builders sued as death toll tops 33,000

The death count in the massive earthquake that devastated Turkey and Syria last week, has topped 33,000, as Turkish authorities began legal action against builders for the building collapses and deployed several measures in a bid to maintain order across the disaster zone.

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turkey earthquake

The death count in the massive earthquake that devastated Turkey and Syria last week, has topped 33,000, as Turkish authorities began legal action against builders for the building collapses and deployed several measures in a bid to maintain order across the disaster zone.

On Sunday, rescue workers continued to pull more survivors from under the rubble, however, the chances of finding more survivors are dwindling each passing since the disaster hit.

Authorities confirmed that at least 33,000 people are confirmed dead across both countries in what is described as the deadliest quake to strike Turkey since 1939, even as the death count is expected to rise over the coming days as bodies are pulled from the debris.  

According to reports, business owners in Antakya in southern Turkey—one of the worst hit cities—emptied their shops on Sunday to secure their merchandise from being robbed by looters who are roaming the streets.

A Reuters report quoting residents and aid workers from other cities cited worsening security conditions, with widespread accounts of businesses and collapsed homes being robbed.

President Tayyip Erdogan, who has faced backlash over his government’s response to the disaster, has assured that authorities will deal firmly with looters.

In militant-held northwest Syria—one of the hardest hit areas by the quake—thousands are once again homeless in the war-torn nation as the region has received meagre aid compared to government-held areas.

United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths in a tweet said that “we have failed” the people in north-west Syria and that they feel abandoned, adding that he was focused on addressing that swiftly.

-Miracles-

Nearly a week after the disaster, survivors miraculously clinging to life under the rubble of buildings that became tombs for thousands, were found by rescue workers.

54-year-old Malik Milandi of Syria, was rescued by a team of Chinese rescuers and Turkish firefighters after he survived 156 hours under the rubble in Antakya.

A father and daughter, a toddler and a 10-year-old girl were among other survivors pulled from the ruins of collapsed buildings Sunday, but such scenes were becoming rare as the number of dead climbed relentlessly.

On the main road into the city the few buildings left standing had large cracks or caved-in facades. Traffic occasionally halted as rescuers called for silence to detect signs of remaining life under the ruins.

-Crackdown against builders-

The massive 7.8 magnitude tremor has put sharp focus on the quality of building in Turkey and forced the government to take action against the culprits.

In a statement, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said 131 suspects had so far been identified as responsible for the collapse of some of the thousands of buildings flattened in the 10 affected provinces.

Oktay said that this process will be followed by the government meticulously until the necessary judicial process is concluded, especially for buildings that suffered heavy damage and buildings that caused deaths and injuries.

Survivors and opposition politicians have accused the Erdogan regime of slow and inadequate relief efforts early on, and critics have questioned why the army, which played a key role after a 1999 earthquake, was not brought in sooner.

Read Also: US asks its citizens to depart Russia immediately or risk harassment, arrest

Erdogan has acknowledged problems, such as the challenge of delivering aid despite damaged transport links, but said the situation had been brought under control.

On Thursday, World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus left for Syria to oversee aid efforts as bitter cold hampered the search of thousands of flattened buildings and threatened the lives of many quake victims who are without shelter and drinking water.

The quake ranks as the world’s sixth deadliest natural disaster this century, its death toll exceeding the 31,000 from a quake in neighbouring Iran in 2003.

The calamity has killed 29,605 people in Turkey and more than 3,500 in Syria, where tolls have not been updated for two days.

Turkey said about 80,000 people were in hospital, and more than 1 million in temporary shelters.

Turkey is in one of the world’s most active seismic zones in the world. A 7.8-magnitude tremor in 1939 killed over 33,000 people in the eastern Erzincan province.

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Sri Lankan Minister Douglas Devananda says statements on reclaiming Katchatheevu island from Sri Lanka have no ground

Devananda told the media on Thursday that it is not unusual to hear such claims and counterclaims about Katchatheevu as elections are taking place in India.

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Sri Lankan Minister Douglas Devananda has said the statements from some political leaders in India on reclaiming Katchatheevu from the island nation have no ground. He told the media on Thursday that it is not unusual to hear such claims and counterclaims about the strategic island as elections are taking place in India.

The Sri Lankan Minister said he thought India is acting on its interests to secure this place to ensure Sri Lankan fishermen would not have any access to that area and that Sri Lanka should not claim any rights in that resourceful area. According to the 1974 agreement, Devananda said Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen can go fishing in the territorial waters of both countries until the pact was reviewed and amended in 1976.

The amended agreement resulted in fishermen from both countries being barred from fishing in neighboring waters. India’s ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday steered clear of the row surrounding Katchatheevu island. To a volley of questions on the Katchatheevu issue, MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal reffered to External affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s recent comments on the matter.

He said he would like to talk about the issue that has been raised. He added the External Affairs minister has spoken to the press here in Delhi and also in Gujarat and has clarified all the issues. He said everyone should look into the press engagements and they would find the answers to their questions there.

The remarks from Devananda, a Sri Lankan Tamil, came days after the Narendra Modi government accused the Congress and its ally DMK in Tamil Nadu of overlooking national interests by handing over Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka in 1974. The BJP has also been slamming the 2 parties for not ensuring the rights of the fishermen wanting to fish in waters around the island.

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India News

US reiterates its call for fair, transparent, legal process for Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, speaks on Congress frozen accounts

The US spokesperson said that they are also aware of the Congress party’s allegations that tax authorities have frozen some of their bank accounts in a manner that will make it challenging to effectively campaign in the upcoming elections.

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A day after India summoned an US diplomat over their remarks on the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the liquor policy case, the US reiterated its call for fair, transparent, timely legal processes on Wednesday.

Responding to questions on India summoning Gloria Berbena, the US Acting Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that they will continue to follow these actions closely, including the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Notably, the meeting at the foreign ministry’s South Block office lasted nearly 40 minutes yesterday with India objecting strongly to the US remarks on the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal.

Matthew Miller also responded to a question on the Congress party’s frozen bank accounts. The US spokesperson said that they are also aware of the Congress party’s allegations that tax authorities have frozen some of their bank accounts in a manner that will make it challenging to effectively campaign in the upcoming elections. He added that the US encourages fair, transparent and timely legal processes for each of the issues.

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested last week by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection to the Delhi liquor policy scam. Earlier, AAP leaders Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain and Sanjay Singh were arrested in the same case.

The External Affairs Ministry had earlier stated that states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others, and this responsibility is even more so in case of fellow democracies, adding that it could otherwise end up setting unhealthy precedents.

The Ministry further emphasized that India’s legal processes are based on an independent judiciary which is committed to objective and timely outcomes. It mentioned that casting aspersions on India’s legal procedure is unwarranted.

The United State’s remarks followed days after Germany’s Foreign Office stressed that Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is entitled to a fair and impartial trial. The Indian government labelled their remark as blatant interference in internal matters.

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Latest world news

5 Chinese nationals killed in suicide bomb attack in Pakistan

This is the third major attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan within a week.

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Nearly five Chinese nationals were killed in an explosion during an attack on their convoy by a suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday. Reportedly, the suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a convoy of Chinese engineers travelling from Islamabad to their camp in Dasu, situated in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Regional police chief Mohammad Ali Gandapur said that five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed in the attack. As yet, none has claimed responsibility for the attack. Bisham Station House Officer (SHO) Bakht Zahir asserted that the incident was a suicide blast and the authorities concerned were collecting the evidence.

The Station House Officer further added that security arrangements were tightened at the spot and the bodies were being shifted to a hospital. He added that they will investigate from where and how the vehicle of a suicide bomber came and how it happened. Notably, this is the third major attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan within a week.

Previously, two attacks hit an airbase and a strategic port in the southwest province of Balochistan where China is investing billions in infrastructure projects. Several Chinese engineers and Pakistani construction workers have for multiple years been working on hydroelectric projects as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative in the western province of Khyber-Paktunkhwa.

Notably, Dasu is home to a significant dam project, has been a target of previous attacks. Earlier in 2021, the attack in Dasu resulted in the deaths of nine Chinese nationals, along with two Pakistani children. The incident occured when a bus carrying Chinese engineers and workers to the Dasu Hydropower Project site was targeted.

There was confusion surrounding the nature of the attack initially, with some reports suggesting it was a bus accident. Nonetheless, subsequent investigations revealed that it was indeed a terrorist attack. The bus was hit by a blast, leading it to plunge into a ravine.

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