By The Associated Press
Emergency crews made a series of dramatic rescues in Turkey on Friday, pulling several people from the rubble four days after a catastrophic 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed more than 20,000. Temperatures remain below freezing across the large region, and many people have no place to shelter. The government has distributed millions of hot meals, as well as tents and blankets, but is still struggling to reach many people in need.
The Latest on the earthquake:
ALEPPO, Syria — Syrian President Bashar Assad has made his first public appearance in the earthquake-devastated areas of Syria.
Four days after the 7.8-magnitude temblor, Assad and his wife, Asmaa, visited wounded patients Friday at the Aleppo University Hospital, Syrian state media said.
Aleppo is Syria’s second city, already scarred by years of heavy bombardment and shelling, and was among the most devastated cities by the Feb. 6 earthquake.
Assad has been meeting with delegations from countries sending aid, but until now those have taken place in Damascus. Friday’s visit to Aleppo marked his first visit to the earthquake-affected areas.
— Death toll rises, rescues dwindle in quake aftermath
— Turkey’s lax policing of building codes flagged before quake
— Syrian orphans taken in by overwhelmed relatives
— A glance at the world’s deadliest quakes in the past 25 years
— Find more AP coverage at https:// apnews.com/hub/earthquakes
TOKYO — Japan is providing emergency blankets, sleeping mats, plastic sheets and tents to Syria following the Feb. 6 earthquake.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry said Friday the shipment of emergency humanitarian aid was sent at the request of the Syrian government and was being provided though the Japan International Cooperation Agency, or JICA.
Japan has dispatched a team of about 70 search and rescue workers to Turkey.
The quake killed more than 21,000 people in southeast Turkey and northwest Syria.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Treasury Department said Thursday it has issued a license to allow earthquake-related relief to get through that would otherwise be prohibited by sanctions on Syria.
“U.S. sanctions in Syria will not stand in the way of life-saving efforts for the Syrian people,’’ deputy Treasury secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement. “While U.S. sanctions programs already contain robust exemptions for humanitarian efforts, today Treasury is issuing a blanket General License to authorize earthquake relief efforts so that those providing assistance can focus on what’s needed most: saving lives and rebuilding.”
The license lasts for six months. It expands on broad humanitarian authorizations already in effect.
The United States will provide $85 million in initial earthquake aid to Turkey and Syria, which will include medicine, shelter and other supplies, President Joe Biden announced. “Our hearts remain with the people of Türkiye and Syria,” he said on Twitter.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia has deployed a search and rescue team of 72 personnel to assist Turkish authorities.
The team will take with them about 22 tons of equipment and critical supplies, including tents, bandages, bolt cutters, chainsaws and drills, and will be self-sufficient.
Defense Minister Richard Marles told reporters in Canberra on Friday the team “will make a real difference when they get onto the ground.”
He noted Australia earlier announced a contribution of $6.9 million to the aid efforts.
Meanwhile, New Zealand on Friday said it was donating another $1.9 million toward humanitarian efforts in Turkey and Syria, bringing its contribution to $2.8 million. The new money will go to the World Food Program in Turkey and UNICEF in Syria.
New Zealand is also dedicating two emergency information specialists to work remotely from New Zealand to help coordinate round-the-clock search and rescue efforts in Turkey. ___
A 10-year-old girl was rescued alive Thursday night in the Antakya district of Turkey’s Hatay province. DHA news agency said after making initial contact with the child, rescuers worked 32 hours at the site to clear a passage to her. Medics had to amputate one of her arms to free the girl from the rubble because removing the block that was crushing her would have endangered her further, the news agency reported. The girl’s parents and three siblings were found dead.
An hour before that, rescuers pulled a 17-year-old girl out of rubble in Adiyaman province. Miners and others brought her out and medics took her to an ambulance on a stretcher with an IV bag hanging. They briefly clapped before a rescuer asked for quiet.
Also, a 20-year-old was rescued in Kahramanmaras by IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation workers, who shouted “God is Great.”
Their medical conditions were unknown.
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