Photo: Reuters

Turkey ends rescue efforts of deadly earthquake

Over the past 24 hours, there have been 40 earthquakes worldwide with a magnitude of 2.5+, according to the United States Geological Survey. The most powerful of these was a M5.2 in the South Sandwich Islands region at 03:35:33 local time this morning, causing no major damage.

Turkey today ended search and rescue efforts for the devastating 6.6 magnitude earthquake centered in the Aegean Sea on Friday, that was its deadliest in nearly a decade.

According to the latest statement from the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) earlier today, the death toll has risen to 114. 1,035 others were injured and 137 are still receiving medical care.

In addition to the victims in Turkey, there were two teenaged fatalities on the Greek island of Samos, which was also rocked by the quake.

A total of 1,670 aftershocks — 44 of which had magnitudes higher than 4 — have been recorded since Friday’s quake rattled Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city and home to more than 4.3 million people, said the AFAD.

More than 4,600 tents and 17,000 beds are being used for temporary shelters for residents left without homes.

17 buildings had either collapsed or sustained severe damage.

In what has been hailed as miraculous, a young girl was extricated alive from Izmir’s rubble four days after the disaster amid shouts of “Allahu Akhbar” by rescuers.  3-year-old Ayda Gezgin was the 107th survivor to be rescued and taken to the Ege University Hospital where she has been recuperating. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed happiness and shared photos of the child on Twitter, writing: “Ayda, this was a miracle … Thanks be to Allah for giving us new hopes with your smiling eyes after 91 hours. Get well soon, beautiful child.” “The name of our miracle after 91 hours is Ayda. Thank God,” tweeted Cabinet Minister Murat Kurum.

Turkey is among the world’s most seismically active zones, and prone to earthquakes as it is crossed by fault lines. 41 people were killed in a January earthquake in the eastern province of Elazig.

More than 500 people were killed in a 2011 quake in the eastern Turkish city of Van. In 1999, two powerful quakes – including an M7.4 in Marmara – killed 18,000 people.

It is interesting to note state media reports in Turkey, which is ruled by Erdogan’s Islamist AK party, that authorities have launched proceedings against 52 people for ‘illegal social media posts’ that ‘spread rumors’ about the earthquake or ‘criticized the government’s response.’ Three of the suspects have been arrested and another 16 were detained.

Israeli immediately conveyed condolences and offers of aid to both Turkey and Greece. The Israeli Foreign Ministry informed TV7 that Athens responded that it was not in need of assistance, while Ankara – whose relations with Jerusalem have sharply deteriorated in recent years – apparently rejected the extended hand of help.

Meanwhile, Israel has been blessed by less traumatic seismic activity. The last 30 earthquakes, occurring between 2 November and 7 October, ranged between M3.5 and 2.0. All were categorized as minor, and none resulted in injury or damage.

— By Erin Viner