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Powerful earthquake kills at least 360 people in Turkey, Syria

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A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit southern Turkey and northern Syria early Monday, toppling buildings and triggering a frantic search for survivors in the rubble in cities and towns across the area. At least 360 were killed and hundreds injured, and the toll was expected to rise, Associated Press (AP) reported.

Also Read: Kashmir receives fresh rain, snow; another wet spell from Feb 9-11

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On both sides of the border, residents jolted out of sleep by the pre-dawn quake rushed outside on a cold, rainy and snowy winter night, as buildings were flattened and strong aftershocks continued.

Rescue workers and residents searched for survivors under the rubble of their homes in multiple cities, working through tangles of metal and chunks of concrete.

In the Turkish city of Adana, one resident told AP that three buildings near his home collapsed. “I don’t have the strength anymore,” one survivor could be heard calling out from beneath the rubble as rescue workers tried to reach him, said the resident, journalism student Muhammet Fatih Yavus. Further east in Diyarbakir, cranes and rescue teams rushed people on stretchers out of a mountain of pancaked concrete floors that was once an apartment building.

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On the Syrian side of the border, the quake smashed opposition-held regions that are packed with some 4 million people displaced from other parts of Syria by the country’s long civil war. Many of them live in decrepit conditions with little health care. Rescue workers said hospitals in the area were packed.

“We fear that the deaths are in the hundreds,” Muheeb Qaddour, a doctor, said by phone from the town of Atmeh, referring to the entire rebel-held area. Raed Salah, the head of the White Helmets, the emergency organization in opposition areas, said whole neighborhoods were collapsed in some areas.

The quake, felt as far away as Cairo, was centered about 90 kilometers (60 miles) from the Syrian border, just north of the city of Gaziantep, a major Turkish provincial capital of more than 2 million people. The region has been shaped by more than a decade of war in Syria. Millions of Syrian refugees live in Turkey. The swath of Syria affected by the quake is divided between government-held and opposition-held areas.

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At least 20 aftershocks followed, some hours later during daylight, the strongest measuring 6.6, Turkish authorities said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter that “search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched” to the areas hit by the quake.

“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he wrote.

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Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management agency said at least 76 people in seven Turkish provinces. The agency said 440 people were injured. The death toll in government-held areas of Syria climbed to 237 with more than 630 injured, according to Syrian state media. At least 47 people were reported killed in rebel-held areas.

Buildings were reported collapsed in a swath from Syria’s cities of Aleppo and Hama to Turkey’s Diyarbakir, more than 330 kilometers (200 miles) to the northeast.

In Turkey, people trying to leave the quake-stricken regions caused traffic jams, hampering efforts of emergency teams trying to reach the affected areas. Authorities urged residents not to take to the roads. Mosques around the region were being opened up as a shelter for people unable to return to damaged homes amid temperatures that hovered around freezing.

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In Diyarbakir, rescue teams called for silence as they tried to listen for survivors under the wreckage of an 11-story building. Rescue workers pulled out one man, carrying him on a stretcher through a dense crowd of hundreds of people anxiously watching the rescue efforts. A gray-haired woman wailed before being escorted away by a man, while a rescue worker wearing a white helmet tried to calm a crying girl, who was also being cuddled by two friends.

In rebel-held northwest Syria, the opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense described the situation as “disastrous” adding that entire buildings have collapsed and people are trapped under the rubble.

In the small Syrian rebel-held town of Azmarin in the mountains by the Turkish border, the bodies of several dead children, wrapped in blankets, were brought to a hospital.

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Emergency rooms in the territory were full of injured, said Amjad Rass, president of the Syrian American Medical Society.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 33 kilometers (20 miles) from Gaziantep. It was centered 18 kilometers (11 miles) deep.

In Damascus, buildings shook and many people went down to the streets in fear.

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The quake jolted residents in Lebanon from beds, shaking buildings for about 40 seconds. Many residents of Beirut left their homes and took to the streets or drove in their cars away from buildings.

The earthquake came as the Middle East is experiencing a snowstorm that is expected to continue until Thursday.

Turkey sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes.

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Some 18,000 were killed in powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.

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Erica Robin becomes first ever Miss Universe Pakistan

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Erica Robin, a model from Karachi has been crowned “Miss Universe Pakistan 2023”, becoming the first-ever woman from the country to win the title.

Four other models from different parts of the country participated in the beauty pageant, including Hira Inam from Lahore, Jessical Wilson from Rawalpindi, Pakistani-American Malika Alvi from Pennsylvania, and Sabrina Wasim. Jessica Wilson, a 28-year-old cyber security engineer was named first runner-up while Hira Inam (24), Malyka Alvi (19), and Sabrina Wasim (26) were the rest of the finalists.

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Award-winning actress, mental health advocate, and former Miss International Kylie Verzosa from the Philippines was one of the distinguished panel of judges who picked the winner.

Robin will be the official representative of Pakistan at the Miss Universe pageant, scheduled to be held in El Salvador later this year. Pakistan will be sending five models to compete in the prestigious Miss Universe pageant. This landmark moment marks the first time Pakistan has ever been represented in the world’s most esteemed beauty competition.

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Morocco earthquake: Death toll surpasses 2000

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According to state TV, the number of fatalities following a strong 6.8-magnitude earthquake that shook Morocco on Friday night has surpassed 2,000. The death toll makes it the deadliest earthquake to strike the nation of North Africa in decades.

Also Read: Powerful earthquake in Morocco kills more than 800 people

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Rescue teams are reportedly struggling to reach the most affected areas, with roads blocked by debris. One witness said “we are hoping for miracles from the rubble,” CNN reported.

The epicenter was in the High Atlas mountains, about 72 kilometers (45 miles) southwest of Marrakech, a popular tourist city of about 840,000 people. The city’s historic walls, first laid out in the early 12th century, have been damaged.

The quake was the most powerful to shake the area surrounding Marrakech in more than 120 years, according to the US Geological Survey.

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Powerful earthquake in Morocco kills more than 800 people

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More than 800 people were killed and hundreds were injured in a massive earthquake that struck Morocco. It was the deadliest tremor to hit the country in more than 60 years, and it destroyed homes in isolated mountain towns while rescue workers searched through the debris for survivors, reuters reported.

As per reuters, a magnitude 7.2 quake struck in Morocco’s High Atlas mountains late on Friday night. The Interior Ministry said 820 people had been killed and another 672 injured.

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Most of the fatalities are in mountainous areas outside Marrakech, the nearest city to the epicentre, its updated toll showed.

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