Nine survivors pulled from Turkey’s rubble as earthquake death toll passes 40,000
Nine survivors were rescued from the rubble in Turkey on Tuesday, more than a week after a massive earthquake struck, as the focus of the aid effort shifted to helping people now struggling without shelter or enough food in the bitter cold, Reuters reported.
The disaster, with a combined death toll in Turkey and neighbouring Syria exceeding 41,000, has ravaged cities in both countries, leaving many survivors homeless in near-freezing winter temperatures.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has acknowledged problems in the initial response to the 7.8 magnitude quake that struck early on Feb. 6 but has said the situation is now under control.
“We are facing one of the greatest natural disasters not only in our country but also in the history of humanity,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Ankara.
Those rescued on Tuesday included two brothers, aged 17 and 21, pulled from an apartment block in Kahramanmaras province, and a Syrian man and young woman in a leopard-print headscarf in Antakya rescued after over 200 hours in the rubble. There could be further people alive still to find, said one rescuer.
But U.N. authorities have said the rescue phase is coming to a close, with the focus turning to shelter, food and schooling, read the report.
“People are suffering a lot. We applied to receive a tent, aid, or something, but up to now we didn’t receive anything,” said Hassan Saimoua, a refugee staying with his family in a playground in Turkey’s southeastern city of Gaziantep.
Saimoua and other Syrians who had found refuge in Gaziantep from the war at home but were made homeless by the quake used plastic sheets, blankets and cardboard to erect makeshift tents in the playground.
“The needs are huge, increasing by the hour,” said Hans Henri P. Kluge, the World Health Organization’s director for Europe. “Some 26 million people across both countries need humanitarian assistance.”
“There are also growing concerns over emerging health issues linked to the cold weather, hygiene and sanitation, and the spread of infectious diseases – with vulnerable people especially at risk.”
At a Turkish field hospital in the southern city of Iskenderun, Indian Army Major Beena Tiwari said patients had initially arrived with physical injuries but that was changing.
“Now more of the patients are coming with post-traumatic stress disorder, following all the shock that they’ve gone through during the earthquake,” she said.
Families in both Turkey and Syria said they and their children were dealing with the psychological aftermath of the quake, Reuters reported.
“Whenever he forgets, he hears a loud sound and then remembers again,” Hassan Moaz said of his 9-year-old in Aleppo, Syria. “When he’s sleeping at night and hears a sound, he wakes up and tells me: ‘Dad, aftershock!'”
A first convoy of U.N. aid entered rebel-held northwest Syria from Turkey via the newly-opened Bab al-Salam crossing.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed on Monday to allow U.N. aid to enter from Turkey via two more border crossings, marking a shift for Damascus which has long opposed cross-border aid deliveries to the rebel enclave.
Nearly 9 million people in Syria were affected by the earthquake, the United Nations said, as it launched a $400 million funding appeal.
The search for survivors was about to end in the north west of Syria, said the head of the White Helmets main rescue group, Raed al Saleh.
Russia also said it was wrapping up its search and rescue work in Turkey and Syria and preparing to withdraw, Reuters reported.
The Turkish toll was 35,3418 killed, Erdogan said. More than 5,814 have died in Syria, according to a Reuters tally of reports from Syrian state media and a U.N. agency.
Survivors joined a mass exodus from earthquake-hit zones, leaving their homes and unsure if they can ever come back.
“It’s very hard … We will start from zero, without belongings, without a job,” said 22-year-old Hamza Bekry, a Syrian originally from Idlib who has lived in Antakya, in southern Turkey, for 12 years but prepared to follow his family to Isparta in southern Turkey.
More than 2.2 million people have left the worst-hit areas already, Erdogan said, and hundreds of thousands of buildings have become uninhabitable, read the report.
Over 3,600 boxes of silkworms distributed to Herat farmers this year
Herat Directorate of Agriculture and Livestock says more than 3,500 boxes of silkworms have been distributed to farmers this year in Zinda Jan, Injil, Guzara and Pashtun Zarghun districts of the province.
This directorate has said that 80 percent of silk work is done in Zinda Jan district.
“We were able to grow about 3,600 boxes with the help of institutions, about 80 percent of which we have grown in Zinda Jan district,” said Khalil Ahmad, general director of Herat agriculture directorate.
“About 20 percent of silkworms have been grown in Injil, Guzara and Pashtun Zarghun districts, which has had good results and the financial status of the farmers has improved.”
The local officials said most work in the silk industry is done by women.
“Almost 60 percent of the silk industry is done by women,” said Ahmad Shah Qawami, head of the silk workers’ union for Zinda Jan district.
This year, the families who are engaged in raising silkworms hope to have good production, now that the silk season is over and many are working to separate the silk thread.
However, the farmers are not satisfied with this year’s market conditions.
“The silk market is weak this year, it was good last year, it was very advanced,” said a silk worker.
The silk industry in Herat has a history dating back 600 years, and many families have preserved this ancient profession.
Silkworms usually feed on the leaves of mulberry trees, which grow in these regions. The industry also provides a livelihood to hundreds of men and women in the area.
Two die of Congo fever in Balkh Central Hospital
Two patients died of Congo fever in Abu Ali Sinai Balkhi Hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif city, health officials said.
Reports of an outbreak of Congo fever have been recorded in a number of provinces in the north of the country.
Najibullah Tawana, head of public health of Balkh, announced the death of two people in the meeting of sectorial coordination to prevent and reduce diseases between humans and animals in the province.
“Last week, 10 cases of Congo disease were confirmed in Faryab and Jawzjan and [patients were] transferred to Abu Ali Sina Balkhi seminary hospital, but two of them have died,” said Tawana.
Meanwhile, Mawolavi Mohammad Nasim Abid, the deputy mayor of Mazar-e-Sharif, said that they monitor the cleanliness and compliance of butchers every day, and that animals are slaughtered in slaughterhouses built by this department.
According to him; standard facilities have been established for the slaughter of chickens to prevent the spread of various diseases.
Mawolavi Zabihullah Noorani, the head of Balkh culture and information, also asked the media to inform the people about the prevention of this disease and inform them about the harm of this deadly disease.
Two security force members killed in Pakistan suicide bombing
Two members of Pakistan’s security forces were killed and 19 others injured on Saturday when a suicide bomber riding an explosive-laden motorcycle targeted their convoy in the Chahkan area of Dera Ismail Khan district, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, an official said.
Two security personnel were killed and 19 others were injured. Three of the wounded were said to be in critical condition, officials said.
They said the injured were transferred to the Combined Military Hospital in Peshawar.
Local media reports the entire area has been cordoned off and law-enforcement agencies have launched an investigation into the attack.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
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