Türkiye's quake death toll exceeds 35,000, as intensifying diplomacy helps mend ties between foes

2023-02-15 08:17:12Xinhua Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The death toll from last week's powerful earthquakes in southern Türkiye rose to 35,418 on Tuesday, while intensifying diplomacy between Türkiye and its previous foes helps further ease their ties.

A total of 105,505 people were injured in the tremors, of whom 13,208 are still receiving treatment in hospitals, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.

In another speech made during the day, Erdogan said that the number of people rescued from the rubble was over 8,000.

The Turkish government has provided shelter for a total of 1.6 million earthquake victims, while Qatar has been sending 10,000 containers to Türkiye via ships, which will be turned into shelters.

Talking about foreign support and aid, Erdogan said teams from 84 countries participated in the quake rescue efforts in Türkiye.

At least 47,000 buildings were severely damaged in the quake-hit zone, the Turkish president said, pledging to start the construction of 30,000 new housing units in early March.

It is estimated that more than 2 million people evacuated from the quake zone, which is home to nearly 13 million people, he said.

Türkiye was hit by two massive earthquakes measuring 7.7- and 7.6-magnitude on Feb. 6, which affected a 500-km-wide region spanning 10 Turkish provinces.

John Lee, chief executive of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), said on Tuesday that the HKSAR government will send about 30 million Hong Kong dollars (about 3.82 million U.S. dollars) worth of supplies to the quake-hit areas in Türkiye.

More than 100 tons of supplies donated by Hong Kong citizens were delivered to Türkiye on Monday evening, he said.

Several Chinese official and civilian teams have been taking part in the search and rescue efforts for nearly a week in Türkiye in the wake of the two massive earthquakes.

With foreign rescue teams flocking to the country to aid the rescue efforts and world leaders extending condolences to the Turkish victims, the earthquake diplomacy paved the way for pushing forward Türkiye's normalization processes with its foes.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias visited the Turkish quake-hit zones on Sunday, accompanied by his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. Meanwhile, Erdogan had phone talks with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

The two neighbors have been at odds over territorial claims in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen paid a visit to the Turkish capital Ankara to show solidarity with Türkiye on Monday, as the two sides continued the momentum of normalizing strained ties.

Israel sent a 450-member rescue team on the first day of Türkiye's devastating earthquakes last week, followed by the establishment of a field hospital in the quake-hit region, Cohen said.

Cavusoglu will hold a press conference with his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan in the capital Ankara on Wednesday. The two top diplomats met on the sidelines of an international conference last year to discuss ways of ending their decades-old hostilities.

The relations between Türkiye and Armenia were severed in 1993 during the first war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh when Ankara closed the border with Armenia in support of Azerbaijan. The two neighbors have stepped up the normalization dialogue since last year. 


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