Ankara/Damascus, Feb 13 (IANS) The death toll from the twin earthquakes that rocked Turkey and Syria last week has climbed to 29,605 and 1,414 respectively.
The number of wounded, meanwhile, rose to more than 80,000 in Turkey and 2,349 in Syria, according to official figures released on Sunday.
Turkey has issued arrest warrants for 134 suspects involved in the faulty construction of buildings that collapsed in the earthquakes, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Sunday.
Three of the suspects were arrested, Bozdag told reporters.
The catastrophic earthquakes have flattened more than 20,000 buildings across the 10 quake-affected regions, Xinhua news agency reported.
Yavuz Karakus and Sevilay Karakus, contractors of many buildings destroyed in the earthquake in southern Adiyaman province, were detained at Istanbul Airport while trying to escape to Georgia, the local NTV broadcaster reported on Sunday.
Two more people were arrested for cutting the column of a building that collapsed in Gaziantep province, the semi-official Anadolu Agency reported.
Thousands of rescuers continued to search for any sign of life in collapsed multi-storey buildings on the seventh day of the disaster. Hopes for finding alive survivors are fading, but the teams still manage some incredible rescues.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca posted a video of a girl child rescued at the 150th hour. “Rescued a little while ago by crews. There is always hope!” he tweeted on Sunday.
Rescue workers pulled out 65-year-old women in the Antakya district of Hatay province 160 hours after the quake, the Anadolu Agency reported.
A survivor was rescued from the debris in the Antakya district of Hatay province by Chinese and local rescuers on Sunday afternoon, 150 hours after the quake hit the region.
On Sunday, Algeria and Libya also sent planes full of relief items to the quake-hit areas.
Meanwhile, foreign heads of state and ministers started to pay visits to Turkey and Syria for showing solidarity.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias visited Turkey on Sunday in a show of support. “We will continue to do our best to overcome difficult times, both at bilateral and the level of the European Union,” said Dendias, the first European Foreign Minister visiting Turkey after the disaster.
The visit by the Greek Foreign Minister comes amid long-standing tensions between the two NATO states over territorial disputes.
The Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the first foreign head of a state visiting quake-hit Turkey, met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Sunday.
Qatar has sent the first part of the 10,000 container houses for earthquake victims in Turkey, the Anadolu Agency reported.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Syria, promising continuing support for the country to overcome the repercussions of the catastrophic earthquake, Syrian state news agency SANA reported.