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Editorial: Int'l cooperation called for in rescue efforts after Turkey-Syria quake

A powerful earthquake has struck southern Turkey, affecting neighboring Syria and claiming the lives of several thousand people in those countries. The international community needs to do all it can to provide relief efforts in a concerted manner.

    The temblor registered a magnitude of 7.8. The seismic scale is greater than that of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake that devastated Kobe and other parts of western Japan, the same inland-type quake as the Turkish jolt. The latter's tremor traveled as far as Israel.

    When the massive quake hit Turkey in the wee hours of Feb. 6, many residents were deep asleep, leaving them no time to escape and resulting in them being trapped under collapsed buildings.

    Rescue efforts by the Turkish government have hit a snag, with poor road conditions and power outages in affected areas. A spate of aftershocks, coupled with the freezing cold, snow and rain, have hampered rescue operations.

    In Syria, which is 12 years into a civil war, several million refugees and evacuees are spending unstable lives near its borders with Turkey. Efforts to repair buildings that were destroyed in the civil strife have not progressed.

    It was under these circumstances that the deadly quake struck, as if to pour salt on the wounds. Many areas in quake-hit northern Syria are controlled by insurgencies, which have been engaged in battles with government forces. Confusion is expected to arise over the acceptance of aid from other countries.

    We must prevent this intricate state of affairs from delaying assistance and widening the damage from the quake disaster.

    United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for cooperation from the international community, stating that many people are "in dire need of humanitarian aid in areas where access is a challenge."

    According to the Turkish government, several dozen countries and regions, including Japan, the United States and European countries, have offered to provide relief to disaster areas. The European Union and Britain have sent out rescue experts and search dogs, as well as equipment for search and rescue operations.

    The Japanese government has dispatched the Japan Disaster Relief Team's rescue unit to search and rescue those missing.

    Japan and Turkey have traditionally maintained amicable relations. Both countries are prone to earthquakes, and they have deepened a relationship of trust through mutual assistance. It is hoped that Japan's knowledge and expertise gained from past quake disasters will be utilized in its assistance for Turkey.

    The recent killer quake occurred just as the world is seeking a way out of the coronavirus pandemic spanning three years. An environment for rescue teams from different countries and regions to cooperate with each other is being put into place.

    What is concerning is that the global divide has been deepening amid Russia's prolonged invasion of Ukraine and ongoing tensions between the United States and China. We must ensure that this will not hinder rescue and relief efforts in disaster areas. Each country and region has the responsibility to prioritize rescue efforts to save the lives of as many people as possible.

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