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Turkey, earthquake, armed gangs. Estonian rescuers had to stop night rescue operations

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Estonian rescuers have halted night rescues in the earthquake-stricken province of Hatay in southern Turkey, fearing “armed gangs circling around”. “The atmosphere is truly apocalyptic,” said the deputy squad leader. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had agreed to open two additional border crossings with Turkey for three months to deliver humanitarian aid to earthquake victims.

From the earthquake and aftershocks that hit the southeast Turkey and north-western Syria, it’s been over a week.

In Turkey, Estonian rescuers halted night rescues for fear of “armed gangs circling around”.

As Erkki Pold, deputy commander of the Estonian rescue department in Turkey, told Estonian radio Vikerraadio on Monday, “people’s desperation has led to a very difficult situation.” – Some try to take advantage of it. There are shootings. We ourselves have not found ourselves in a crisis situation so far, but for safety reasons we have decided to stop working at night – he said.

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Estonian rescuers work in the southern Turkish province of Hatay. – Huge residential buildings are destroyed. The survivors sleep in the streets and burn tires to stay warm. The atmosphere is really apocalyptic – noted the Estonian rescuer. – From our perspective, the biggest challenge is logistics and the shortage of all kinds of resources. But the hardest part is seeing these desperate people, he added.

The rescuer said that the members of the mission sent to Turkey will return to the country on Tuesday evening.

More than 37,000 people died in the earthquake on the Turkish-Syrian border – 31,643 in Turkey and over 5,700 in Syria.

The Syrian president has agreed to open two additional border crossings

President of Syria Bashar al-Assad agreed to open two additional border crossings with Turkey for three months to deliver humanitarian aid to earthquake victims. These are the Bab Al-Salam and Al-Rai border crossings, the secretary-general said UN Antonio Guterres in a statement released after the meeting in Damascus of UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths with the President of Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-AssadKremlin.ru/CC BY 4.0

“As the death toll from the February 6 earthquake continues to rise, providing food, healthcare, shelter, winter supplies and other life-saving supplies to all the millions of people affected is of the utmost importance,” Guterres said.

“The opening of these border crossings, together with facilitating humanitarian access, speeding up visa approvals and facilitating travel, will allow more aid to flow in more quickly,” he added.

Since 2014, the UN has been able to deliver aid to people in the north-west of war-torn Syria via Turkey under the mandate of the Security Council. However, the UN was only allowed to do so through one border crossing, Bab al-Hawa, because opening others, as the Syrian government described it, would be “a violation of Syria’s sovereignty.”

Main photo source: PAP/EPA/STR



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