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Looters Arrested, Military Ships Become Hospitals

(Bloomberg) – Turkey on Saturday arrested 48 people for looting in areas hit by this week’s devastating earthquakes, state media reported, while two huge military ships were deployed to the south of the country to act as floating hospitals to treat the injured to serve. The death toll in Turkey and Syria has exceeded 27,000 and more than 80,000 are injured. Thousands more are missing.

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Austria resumed rescue operations on Saturday hours after being suspended over safety concerns. Prosecutors issued arrest warrants for dozens of people as part of an investigation into construction defects.

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  • Turkey’s main opposition files complaint over Twitter blackout

(All times Istanbul, GMT +3)

Looters Arrested (11pm)

Turkish security teams arrested at least 48 people on charges of looting damaged buildings or trying to scam victims in the region over the phone, state-run Anadolu News Agency reported. Two of those arrested allegedly posing as helpers tried to loot six truckloads of food for earthquake victims in southern Hatay province, according to the news site. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said again on Saturday that these looters would be arrested and punished.

Military Ships Will Be Converted To Floating Hospitals (10:55 p.m.)

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Two huge ships used as landing craft for the Turkish military have been sent south of the country to serve as hospitals for the injured, with 560 beds on each ship, Anadolu said. Medical care on board includes surgeries for trauma and orthopedics.

Austria resumes rescue operations hours after stopping (7:57 p.m.)

Austrian troops have resumed rescue operations after receiving security guarantees from the country’s military, Michael Bauer, a spokesman for the Austrian army, said on Twitter. Austria had previously cited “an increasingly difficult security situation” in southern Hatay province for the suspension of the deployment of the Austrian Armed Forces’ Disaster Relief Unit. Two German rescue groups also halted rescue operations for safety guarantees.

Death toll exceeds 27,000 (7:37 p.m.)

The death toll in Turkey and Syria has risen to more than 27,000, according to Turkish officials and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which deploys a network of activists on the ground. Tens of thousands of people remain missing.

22,327 people died in Turkey, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said late Saturday. The number has already surpassed that of the devastating 1999 earthquake near Istanbul, which officials said killed about 18,000 people. The number of injured in Turkey is over 80,000. SOHR estimates the death toll in Syria at 5,189.

BTC Oil Loading In Ceyhan May Begin In 2 Days, Reuters Says (7:34 p.m.)

Turkey’s Ceyhan port could start loading oil again from the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in a day or two, Reuters reported, citing a Turkish official and a person involved in the shipping without identifying them.

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Turkish Court Arrests Builder of Collapsed Luxury Residence (6:44 p.m.)

A Turkish court officially arrested the builder of the luxurious Ronesans Residence, a 250-apartment building in Hatay province that collapsed on February 6, Anadolu Agency reported. The businessman had previously been arrested in Istanbul while attempting to fly abroad. The building, under which dozens died, has been dubbed a “death residence” in Turkish media. In Adana province, prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 62 people as part of an investigation into construction defects.

Armenian Aid Trucks Arrive After Talks to Restore Relations (4:05 p.m.)

Armenian trucks drove to Turkey for the first time in decades to deliver humanitarian aid to survivors, Armenian diplomat Tigran Balayan wrote on Twitter

Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 over its conflict with Ankara’s ally Azerbaijan, but the two held normalization talks last year.

Read more: Turkish and Armenian leaders bind first talks since 2009 (2)

UN official expects death toll to double (3:23 p.m.)

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths predicts the death toll will “double or more,” he said in an interview with Sky.

He described the scene as “a tangle of horrifying rubble that hides those we fear to find and makes it dangerous for these heroic people who do this 24/7 to get to them.”

Turkish universities to go online by summer (2:50 p.m.)

Turkish universities will move classes online by the summer to free up housing for survivors, President Erdogan said.

All dormitories on the university campus will be used to accommodate people affected by the earthquakes, Erdogan said.

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Turkey Postpones Insolvency Proceedings (2:04 p.m.)

Turkey postponed some court cases related to debt enforcement and bankruptcy in 10 provinces in the first presidential decree issued under a three-month state of emergency in the earthquake zone.

Proceedings were postponed from February 6 to April 6, the date when twin quakes struck 10 provinces in Turkey.

Many buildings that have not collapsed are unusable, according to official figures (1:33 p.m.)

Thousands of buildings hit by double quakes are unusable even if they didn’t collapse, a Turkish official said. After examining nearly 133,000 buildings in 10 provinces, officials have concluded that 12,617 of them have suffered severe damage and are not safe to use, Anadolu Agency quoted Banu Aslan, head of a construction affairs department at the Ministry of Environment, Urbanization as saying and climate change, as I said.

Soldiers on patrol around bank branches (5:30 a.m.)

Turkish soldiers have started patrolling streets lined with bank branches and jewelry stores in Hatay, one of the worst-hit provinces, local broadcaster Fox TV reported.

One Million Survivors in Shelters (1:09 am)

More than a million quake survivors have been taken to emergency shelters, said Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay. Almost 200,000 people have been evacuated from the earthquake zone in the west of the country, he said.

–With support from Beril Akman, Tugce Ozsoy, Baris Balci, Ros Krasny and Inci Ozbek.

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