TURKEY EARTHQUAKE: Dendias meets with Çavuşoğlu in Antioch

turkey Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu train collision

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is in the quake-affected region of Antioch (Ἀντιόχεια, Turkish: Hatay) in southeastern Turkey and met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Çavuşoğlu, from the earthquake response headquarters, said he was happy that "my friend Nikos is here to support us".

Dendias landed in Adana, where he had a warm embrace with Çavuşoğlu. The two foreign ministers had a brief meeting in an airport lounge and soon after boarded helicopters bound for the earthquake-affected areas in the province.

During his visit to Turkey, the Foreign Minister will meet with members of the Hellenic Aid Mission, which is operating in the areas that have suffered catastrophic damage from the recent earthquakes.

In addition, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will visit the Operations Centre in Antioch and will be informed about the latest developments, which concern the rescue efforts and humanitarian aid.

In the context of the visit, ways of further assistance by Greece in dealing with the devastating consequences of the earthquakes will also be examined.

It should be noted that the Minister of Foreign Affairs has instructed our Permanent Representation in Geneva to take action to provide emergency humanitarian aid through OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) to Turkey and Syria .

In addition, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andreas Katsaniotis, has taken over the coordination of organisations and individuals who wish to assist in the collection of humanitarian aid for the affected areas in Turkey and Syria.

So far, the Greek government has sent 80 tonnes of medical and first aid equipment.

The death toll from Monday’s earthquake has surpassed 28,000. Turkish vice president said last night the death toll in his country had risen to 24,617. The Agence France-Presse has reported there has been 3,553 death in Syria.

Arrests warrants have been issued for 113 people in connection with the construction of buildings that collapsed in Monday’s earthquake, officials in Turkey have said.

Turkish police have already taken at least 12 people into custody, including building contractors.

While more arrests are likely, some critics are suggesting it is an attempt to divert blame for the disaster, as experts have consistently warned many new buildings in Turkey were unsafe.

The BBC reports that government policies allowed “amnesties” for contractors who didn’t adhere to building regulations, including in earthquake-prone areas, in a bid to spark a construction boom.

Germany's International Search and Rescue (ISAR) told Reuters news agency in an email: "There are increasing reports of clashes between different groups, and shots are said to have been fired."

ISAR operations manager Steven Bayer said the area was getting more unsafe, something he described as typical in such circumstances.

Speaking at a camp for rescue workers in the town of Kirikhan, he said: "That's partly due to the fact that food is now running out, water supply is running out, and then people are out searching for food and water.

"A second thing is that the hope that people had is now increasingly fading, and that hope can then also turn into anger."

ISAR, along with Germany's Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), has said it will start work again as soon as Turkey's civil protection agency declares the area safe.

Meanwhile, Austria's defence ministry spokesman Michael Bauer said the Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit (AFDRU) had resumed their work after the Turkish army promised to protect them.

Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Kugelweis said in a statement on Saturday that there had been "increasing aggression between groups in Turkey".

But he added there had been no attacks on the Austrians, who were "all fine" and in good spirits.

Switzerland said it is also watching the security situation closely, adding that it has measures to protect its 87 rescuers and eight dogs in Hatay Province.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that there has been some looting, although he did not comment on reports of fighting.

READ MORE: TURKEY EARTHQUAKE: Turkish news presenter attacks Erdoğan's construction policies and then resigns!

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