Following Monday’s tragic earthquake, three rescue organizations have reported that unrest in southern Turkey has hindered rescue operations in some areas.
Despite some amazing rescues, the number of fatalities from the earthquake in Turkey and Syria has topped 28,000, and the prospect of finding many more survivors is dwindling.
Search efforts were suspended on Saturday due to conflicts between unidentifiable factions, according to German rescuers and the Austrian army.
According to one rescuer, security is predicted to deteriorate as food supplies get low.
The president of Turkey declared that he will utilize his emergency powers to punish lawbreakers.
Numerous members of the Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit sought refuge at a base camp alongside other international organizations early on Saturday as a result of clashes between unidentified parties in the Hatay region.
According to a statement from Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Kugelweis, there is an increase in faction hostility in Turkey. “The possibilities of saving a life have no logical relationship to the safety risk,” the statement reads.
Austria’s defense minister announced that the Turkish army had intervened to guarantee safety, allowing the rescue operations to restart hours after Austria halted its rescue efforts.
Both the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (TSW) and the German section of the search and rescue organization ISAR halted operations due to security issues.
An Austrian army spokesperson said early on Saturday that clashes between unidentified groups in the Hatay province had left dozens of personnel from the Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit seeking shelter in a base camp with other international organisations
“There is increasing aggression between factions in Turkey,” Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Kugelweis said in a statement. “The chances of saving a life bears no reasonable relation to the safety risk.”
Hours after Austria paused its rescue efforts, the country’s ministry of defence said that the Turkish army had stepped in to offer protection, allowing the rescue operations to resume.
The German branch of the search and rescue group ISAR and Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief (TSW) also suspended operations, citing security concerns.
“There are more and more reports of clashes between different factions, shots have also been fired,” said ISAR spokesperson Stefan Heine.
Steven Bayer, operations manager of ISAR, said he expected security to worsen as food, water, and hope become more scarce.
“We are watching the security situation very closely as it develops,” he said.
German rescue teams said they would resume work as soon as Turkish authorities deem the situation safe, Reuters news agency reported
Fuat Oktay, the vice president of Turkey, declared on Saturday that there have now been 24,617 fatalities in Turkey.
Although Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, has not made any comments regarding the alleged disturbance in Hatay, he did emphasize on Saturday that the government would take measures against those responsible for crimes in the area.
During a visit to the disaster area today, Mr. Erdogan announced, “We’ve proclaimed a state of emergency.” It implies that those who engage in kidnapping or robbery should know going forward that the state would hold them firmly accountable.
According to AFP, 48 people were detained on suspicion of looting on Saturday, according to state media. The cash, jewelry, and bank documents were also reportedly taken, according to Turkish state media.
People were smashing shop windows and car barriers, a 26-year-old guy in Antakya who was looking for a work colleague in a collapsed building told Reuters.
Additionally, 12 persons have reportedly been detained by Turkish police in connection with building collapses in the provinces of Sanliurfa and Gaziantep. Contractors were among them, the DHA news agency reported.
After Mr. Oktay told reporters late Saturday that prosecutors issued 113 arrest warrants over the buildings, it is also anticipated that there may be additional arrests.
Turkey saw an at least 6,000-building collapse, prompting inquiries as to whether the massive tragedy might have been prevented and whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration could have done more to save lives.
Elections are coming up, and the president’s future is in jeopardy after 20 years in office and repeated calls for national unity that have gone unanswered.
Even though Mr. Erdogan acknowledged that the reaction fell short, he seemed to blame fate on a trip to one disaster area, saying, “Such things have always happened. The plan of destiny includes it.
Amazing rescues after 100 hours spent under the rubble
A family of five was among those rescued on Saturday from the wreckage in Turkey’s Gaziantep province.
The parents, two children, and son were reportedly rescued from their collapsing home after five days to shouts of “God is amazing.”