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Turkey ends quake rescue efforts except in two provinces—official

By Agence France-Presse Published Feb 20, 2023 10:36 am

Turkey has ended rescue efforts in all provinces except the two hardest hit by last week's massive quake that killed tens of thousands of people, the Turkish disaster agency said Sunday, Feb. 19.

"In many of our provinces, search and rescue efforts have been completed. They continue in Kahramanmaras and Hatay provinces," the agency's chief Yunus Sezer told reporters in Ankara. 

The epicenter of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on Feb. 6 was in Pazarcik district in Kahramanmaras. The tremor hit 11 Turkish southeastern provinces in total.

Sezer said search and rescue efforts continued at around 40 buildings in the provinces on the 14th day but expected the number to fall by late Sunday.

There had been abundant coverage of rescue teams finding survivors but it has now slowed down, with no survivors found in at least 24 hours.

On Saturday, Feb. 18, rescuers found a man and a woman alive in the 296th hour in the southern Turkish city of Antakya but their three children did not survive, local media said.

That came after four people including a 14-year-old boy were rescued Thursday, Feb. 16 and Friday, Feb. 17.

The disaster agency head also said Turkey's death toll had risen to 40,689.

The total death toll including Syria is now 44,377.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said Saturday that some 105,000 buildings either collapsed, needed to be demolished, or were severely damaged in the quake.

In a message on Twitter, the disaster agency urged quake victims not to enter severely damaged buildings, "even briefly," to get their belongings inside.

The government has not given an exact number of how many people have been left homeless.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, said Tuesday, Feb. 14 that around 2.2 million have been evacuated or left the provinces affected. (AFP)