White Helmets announces general mourning for earthquake victims
The leading rescue agency declared on Monday, February 13, general mourning in its centers throughout Syria for the victims of the massive earthquake that struck northwestern Syria and Turkey, saying they will fly the flags at half mast in all White Helmets centers for seven days.
The Civil Defense said on its Twitter account that the official mourning started on Monday and for a week, declaring Feb 6th an annual national day of mourning to commemorate the memory of the earthquake victims.
Raed al-Saleh, head of the Syria Civil Defense (The White Helmets), said on Twitter, “we have the right to grieve and declare official mourning for seven days, starting today, Monday, in all parts of Syria.”
Al-Saleh added that “The earthquake victims are not just numbers. They have a large space in our hearts and our memories. We declare February 6 as a national day of mourning every year, in which we remember them and their pain.”
In the first hours of the earthquake’s aftermath, the Civil Defense announced on February 6 that the regions of northwestern Syria are a “completely stricken area.”
White Helmets teams continued the rescue operations in northwestern Syria to save the lives of people trapped under the rubble amid constant appeals for heavy equipment and machinery to expedite the rescue operations.
The demands were met with a UN pleading that there are logistical obstacles hindering cross-border aid entry.
Likewise, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared, on February 7, a state of emergency for a period of three months in ten Turkish states affected by the earthquake, namely Adana, Adıyaman, Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaraş, Kilis, Malatya, Osmania, and Şanlıurfa.
For its part, the Syrian regime declared Idlib, Aleppo, Latakia, and Hama governorates as disaster areas on February 10, on the fifth day after the earthquake, without explaining the reasons for the delay in the announcement.
The Damascus government has not declared mourning until today.
Legal experts attributed the reasons for the regime’s delay in the announcement of stricken areas to the fact that declaring a disaster-stricken area is a political term related to the mechanism for requesting international relief aid.
The term is subject to international standards that limit the powers of the “national authorities” in how to dispose of this aid. The term also falls within the framework of political disputes and calculations.
The human toll in the northwestern region has reached 2,274 and 12,400 injured people, according to the rescue group the White Helmets, while 1,414 people have died and 2,349 injuries in government-held areas, according to the Syrian Health Ministry in Damascus. The overall death toll in Syria stands at 3,688.
The bodies of Syrian earthquake victims continue to be brought in from Turkey to northern Syria through the border crossings, Bab al-Hawa, al-Ra’i, and Bab al-Salama, and their number has exceeded 1,470 bodies as of this morning.
The number of deaths caused by the devastating earthquake in Turkey rose to 31.643, according to the data of the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD), in an “indefinite toll.”
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