Quake Death Toll Nears 48,000 in Türkiye, 6,000 in Syria

A man rides his motorcycle in a destroyed neighborhood among the rubble of collapsed buildings in Hatay, on March 7, 2023, one month after a massive earthquake struck southeastern Türkiye. (AFP)
A man rides his motorcycle in a destroyed neighborhood among the rubble of collapsed buildings in Hatay, on March 7, 2023, one month after a massive earthquake struck southeastern Türkiye. (AFP)
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Quake Death Toll Nears 48,000 in Türkiye, 6,000 in Syria

A man rides his motorcycle in a destroyed neighborhood among the rubble of collapsed buildings in Hatay, on March 7, 2023, one month after a massive earthquake struck southeastern Türkiye. (AFP)
A man rides his motorcycle in a destroyed neighborhood among the rubble of collapsed buildings in Hatay, on March 7, 2023, one month after a massive earthquake struck southeastern Türkiye. (AFP)

The head of Türkiye’s disaster and emergency management agency has raised the country's death toll from a magnitude 7.8 earthquake last month to 47,975.

Yunus Sezer said during a news conference on Saturday that the people who died included 6,278 foreigners, with Syrian nationals accounting for the largest share.

The Feb. 6 quake affected 11 Turkish provinces and parts of neighboring Syria. The United Nations has estimated Syria's death toll at 6,000.

The quake was followed by a magnitude 7.5 temblor hours later, as well as thousands of aftershocks.

At least 230,000 buildings were destroyed or badly damaged in Türkiye. Experts have pointed at lax building code enforcement as a major reason why the earthquake was so deadly.



Iran’s Pezeshkian Rejects US Pressure, Praises Russia, China

Iran's newly-elected President Masoud Pezeshkian (C) is seen in the south of Tehran on July 6, 2024. (AFP)
Iran's newly-elected President Masoud Pezeshkian (C) is seen in the south of Tehran on July 6, 2024. (AFP)
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Iran’s Pezeshkian Rejects US Pressure, Praises Russia, China

Iran's newly-elected President Masoud Pezeshkian (C) is seen in the south of Tehran on July 6, 2024. (AFP)
Iran's newly-elected President Masoud Pezeshkian (C) is seen in the south of Tehran on July 6, 2024. (AFP)

The United States should realize that Iran will not respond to pressure, President-elect Masoud Pezeshkian said in a statement published on Saturday, in which he also highlighted his country's friendship with China and Russia.

Pezeshkian, a relative moderate who beat a hardline rival in elections, also reiterated that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons, adding that Tehran would expand ties with neighbors and engage with Europe.

"The United States...needs to recognize the reality and understand, once and for all, that Iran does not - and will not - respond to pressure (and) that Iran’s defense doctrine does not include nuclear weapons," Pezeshkian said in the statement, titled "My message to the new world" and published in the daily Tehran Times.

Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old heart surgeon, has pledged to promote a pragmatic foreign policy, ease tensions over now-stalled negotiations with major powers to revive a 2015 nuclear pact and improve prospects for social liberalization and political pluralism.

However, many Iranians are skeptical about his ability to fulfil his campaign promises as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, not the president, is the ultimate authority in the country.

"China and Russia have consistently stood by us during challenging times. We deeply value this friendship.

"Russia is a valued strategic ally and neighbor to Iran and my administration will remain committed to expanding and enhancing our cooperation," Pezeshkian said, adding that Tehran would actively support initiatives aimed at ending the conflict in Ukraine.

"The Iranian people have entrusted me with a strong mandate to vigorously pursue constructive engagement on the international stage while insisting on our rights, our dignity and our deserved role in the region and the world.

"I extend an open invitation to those willing to join us in this historic endeavor,"