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Turkey-Syria quake: Death tolls mounts to 4,300; cities flattened, WHO fears 20,000 may have died

The confirmed death toll mounted to over 4,300 due to mammoth earthquake that tore apart Turkey and neigbouring Syria on Monday even as the World Health Organization (WHO) fears that over 20,000 may have died as rescuers continued to dig the bodies and survivors from beneath the rubble of thousands of buildings flattened by the disastrous tremors.

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Turkey earthquake

The confirmed death toll mounted to over 4,300 due to mammoth earthquake that tore apart Turkey and neigbouring Syria on Monday even as the World Health Organization (WHO) fears that over 20,000 may have died as rescuers continued to dig the bodies and survivors from beneath the rubble of thousands of buildings flattened by the disastrous tremors.

According to official reports, the confirmed death toll across the two countries has soared above 4,300 after a swarm of strong tremors struck near the Turkey-Syria border.

WHO officials fear that the toll may soar to unimaginable numbers, estimating that 20,000 people may have died.

Reports from the Turkish and Syrian disaster response teams said that over 5,600 buildings have been felled across several cities, including many multi-storey apartment blocks that were filled with sleeping residents when the first quake struck.

An AFP report quoting eyewitnesses in the Kahramanmaras city of southeastern Turkey struggled to comprehend the scale of the disaster as some believed that this was the Apocalypse- the end of days.

Turkey’s relief agency AFAD on Tuesday confirmed that there were now 2,921 deaths in Turkey alone bringing the confirmed tally to 4,365.

Reporters from news agencies and rescue workers have reported horrific scenes from ground zero as sky scrapers continue to tumble left and right with survivors clamoring for safety.

In Gaziantep, a Turkish city home to countless Syrian refugees from the war-torn countries’s decade-old civil war, rescuers picking through the rubble screamed, cried and clamoured for safety as another building collapsed nearby without warning, AFP said in its report.

As per reports, the first quake- measured at 7.8 magnitude- was so massive that it was felt as far away as Greenland, and the impact is big enough to have sparked a global response.

Dozens of nations from Ukraine to New Zealand have vowed to send help, although freezing rain and sub-zero temperatures have slowed the response.

India dispatched the batch of relief material to disaster hit Turkey, hours after an announcement made about the same by the Prime Minister’s Office.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the first batch of earthquake relief material to Turkey- which consists of an expert National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) search and rescue team, highly-skilled dog squads, a range of medical supplies, advanced drilling equipment, and other crucial tools required for the relief efforts- was dispatched aboard an Indian Air Force aircraft.

In the southeastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa, rescuers were working into the night to try and pull survivors from the wreckage of a seven-storey building that had collapsed.

Some of the heaviest devastation occurred near the quake’s epicentre between Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep, where entire city blocks lay in ruins as snow gathers.

On Monday, according to the US Geological Survey, the first quake hit at 4:17am (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 18 kilometres (11 miles) near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, home to around two million people.

Reports by various rescue and disaster relief agencies have estimated that over 14,000 people have been injured Turkey, while at least 3,411 people were reported injured in Syria.

Officials said three major airports have been rendered inoperable, complicating deliveries of vital aid and a winter blizzard has covered major roads into the area in ice and snow.

The Syrian health ministry reported damage across the provinces of Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Tartus, where Russia is leasing a naval facility.

Even before the tragedy, buildings in Aleppo — Syria’s pre-war commercial hub — often collapsed due to the dilapidated infrastructure, which has suffered from a lack of wartime oversight. Officials cut off natural gas and power supplies across the region as a precaution, also closing schools for two weeks.

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WHO fears death toll may soar

WHO officials fear that the toll may soar to unimaginable numbers, estimating that 20,000 people may have died.

The global agency’s senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood told news agency AFP that there’s a continued potential of further collapses to happen as she feared an eight-fold increase in the death count.

Smallwood said that as the per the analysis of the initial reports, the number of dead and injured will, unfortunately, increased “quite significantly” in the following weeks as the dust settle and rescue workers recover more bodies from beneath the rubble.

The WHO official warned that people who’ve lost their homes will be meeting and gathering in collective environments which poses particular risks such as overcrowding and exposure to freezing temperatures. This, she added, may put the survivors at the mercy of respiratory viruses.

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.

The Turkish region of Duzce suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999, when more than 17,000 people died.

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Slovakia’s Prime Minister safe after surviving multiple gunshot

The assailant critically injured 59-year-old Prime Minister Fico by shooting him five times.

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Slovakia’s Deputy Prime Minister has confirmed today that Prime Minister Robert Fico’s condition is stable, with his life no longer in immediate danger, following an alarming incident where he was shot multiple times.

The Prime Minister was shot by an assassin while he was leaving a meeting on Wednesday.The assailant critically injured 59-year-old Prime Minister Fico by shooting him five times.

Following the attack, Prime Minister Fico was urgently airlifted to the hospital, where he underwent extensive surgery that lasted several hours. Defence Minister Robert Kalinak, addressing reporters from outside the hospital where Fico was receiving treatment on Wednesday, described the Prime Minister’s condition as critical, emphasising that he was fighting for his life.

The identity of the suspect is yet unconfirmed as the police further investigate. Unconfirmed reports from local media suggest that the assailant may have been a 71-year-old writer and political activist.

A video is currently circulating in which the alleged perpetrator can be seen. In the clip, he mentions that he does not agree with government policy.

The shooting has sparked international concern. Expressing shock over the incident, PM Modi conveyed his solidarity with the people of the Slovak Republic, wishing Prime Minister Fico a speedy recovery. He strongly condemned the shooting, denouncing it as a cowardly and despicable act while emphasising the need for unity against such violent acts and reaffirming India’s support for Slovakia during these challenging times.

Earlier, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen also expressed disapproval of the vile attack on Prime Minister Robert Fico . On X, she stated that such acts of violence have no place in society, undermining democracy, the most precious common good. Von der Leyen extended her thoughts to Prime Minister Fico and his family, highlighting the European Union’s solidarity during this challenging time. The condemnation from EU leadership underscores the gravity of the situation and the need for a united stance against violence targeting political figures. As the investigation unfolds, international support for Slovakia remains steadfast, emphasising the importance of upholding democratic principles and ensuring the safety of leaders across Europe.

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World Earth Day 2024: Google Doodle showcases aerial view of planet’s natural beauty

Google celebrated Earth Day 2024 with a special doodle featuring an aerial view of our planet’s biodiversity.

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Google shared a doodle today to celebrate World Earth Day 2024, which showcased aerial photos of the planet’s biodiversity and natural beauty. Google reminded us of the importance of protecting planet earth for future generations with the help of this doodle.

The Google letters depict specific locations across the globe where people, communities, and governments work every day to help protect the planet’s natural beauty, biodiversity, and resources, according to the explanation of the annual Earth Day 2024 doodle on their website.

It said, these examples remind us that there’s much more to do to address the climate crisis and biodiversity loss, but also offer the promise of hope and optimism.

The islands of Turks and Caicos are represented by the letter “G.” The islands’ conservation efforts are concentrated on protecting important regions for biodiversity and addressing persistent environmental problems.

The largest reef in the southern Gulf of Mexico and a UNESCO biosphere reserve, Scorpion Reef National Park, is represented by the letter “O” in the Mexican flag.

The letter “O” features Iceland’s Vatnajokull National Park, which was designated as a national park in 2008 following decades of advocacy. The ecology within and surrounding the biggest glacier in Europe is safeguarded by this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The letter “G” has the Jau National Park in Brazil on it. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the biggest forest reserves in South America.

The Great Green Wall of Nigeria is represented by the letter “L,”  and the Pilbara Islands Nature Reserves of Australia are represented by the letter “E.”

Meanwhile, Earth Day is a worldwide event that promotes protection of the environment every year. April 22 serves as a reminder of the importance of conservation efforts and sustainable practices to guarantee a healthier world and a brighter future.

The occasion inspires people across the world to come together and take action to protect the environment, strengthening our bonds with nature and promoting good change.

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Bigg Boss 14 contestant Rahul Vaidya struggles walking in knee deep water, compares Dubai rains with Mumbai floods

Singer and TV personality Rahul Vaidya was recently stranded in the Dubai rains.

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Rahul Vaidya, who was in Dubai ahead of his show which was scheduled to take place today, left the country due to heavy rains and reached Kolkata. The artist shared on social media his encounters in the UAE city, including challenges like walking through knee-deep water. Rahul provided an update regarding the heavy rainfall in Dubai on his Instagram profile.

The Bigg Boss 14 contestant revealed that he was in Kolkata and prepared to do an evening performance. Recalling the terrifying period he went through, Vaidya said there was a lot of confusion and panic in Dubai. The situation was similar to that when heavy floods hit Mumbai in 2005.

Vaiday also posted seval other images and videos of cars that were underwater and flooded roadways. The Bigg Boss 14 contestant, who shared his ordeal, claimed that even though it had just rained for two hours, the situation was dire.

In one of the video, which went viral he can be seen struggling in walking in knee-deep water. He can be also seen holding his sneakers in one hand and with other hand he was seen managing other things.

This is the result of the two hours of rain that it had, he can be heard saying in the video. Vidya also said he dosen’t believe Dubai is accustomed to a lot of rain. Everything had stopped working, he remarked.

After taking part in the first season of the singing reality show Indian Idol, Rahul Vaidya gained widespread recognition. In addition to Bigg Boss, he took part in Khatron Ke Khiladi 11.

Meanwhile, heavy rains that triggered flooding in the UAE and Bahrain, which left 18 people dead in Oman on Sunday and Monday, have paralyzed the financial hub of the Middle East, Dubai.

A lot of incoming flights were diverted from Dubai’s international airport because of the rain. At 7:26 p.m., the busiest airport in the world for foreign visitors stopped accepting new arrivals; a gradual resumption was announced for more than two hours later.

Images of planes navigating flooded tarmacs are making the rounds on social media.

According to pictures shared on social media, the flagship malls Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates both experienced heavy floods, while at least one Dubai Metro station had water up to the ankles.

There were several road collapses, severe flooding in residential areas, and numerous reports of leaks from windows, doors, and roofs.

Due to the unfavourable weather, schools around the United Arab Emirates were forced to close, and as more storms are predicted, the closures are anticipated to last until Wednesday. The government of Dubai allowed its staff to work remotely till this Wednesday.

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