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Earthquakes death toll passes 16,000 as “critical” window for rescues closes

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Gaziantep, Turkey — Rescuers pulled more survivors from beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings Thursday but hopes were starting to fade of finding many more people alive more than three days after catastrophic earthquakes and a series of aftershocks hit Turkey and Syria, killing more than 16,000.

Emergency crews working through the night in the city of Antakya were able to pull a young girl from the ruins of a building and rescue her father alive two hours later, news agency IHA reported.

As they prepared the man to be loaded into an ambulance, rescue crews told him that his daughter was alive and they were taking him to the same field hospital for treatment.

“I love you all,” he faintly whispered to the rescue team 

In Diyarbakir, east of Antakya, rescuers freed an injured woman from a collapsed building in the early morning hours but found the three people next to her in the rubble dead, the DHA news agency reported.

But experts said the survival window for those trapped under the rubble or otherwise unable to obtain basic necessities was closing rapidly. At the same time, they said it was too soon to abandon hope.

“The first 72 hours are considered to be critical,” said Steven Godby, a natural hazards expert at Nottingham Trent University in England. “The survival ratio on average within 24 hours is 74%, after 72 hours it is 22% and by the fifth day it is 6%.”

3 people rescued under rubble 76 hours after 7.7 Kahramanmaras Earthquake
Three people are rescued from under rubble of a collapsed building in Gaziantep, Turkey  on Feb. 9, 2023 in the wake of major earthquakes earlier in the week.

Basir Gulum / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


In addition to 12,873 people killed in Turkey, the country’s disaster management agency said more than 60,000 have been injured. On the Syrian side of the border, 3,162 have been reported dead and more than 5,000 injured, bringing the death toll in the two countries to 16,035.

Tens of thousands are thought to have lost their homes. In Antakya, former residents of a collapsed building huddled around an outdoor fire overnight into Thursday, wrapping blankets tightly around themselves to try and stay warm.

Serap Arslan said many people remained under the rubble of the nearby building, including her mother and brother. She said machinery only started to move some of the heavy concrete on Wednesday.

“We tried to clear it by our own means, but unfortunately we are very inadequately” prepared for the job, the 45-year-old said.

Selen Ekimen wiped tears from her face with gloved hands as she explained that both her parents and brother were still buried.

There’s been “no sound from them for days,” she said. “None.”

Aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Pazarcik
People warm themselves around a fire on Feb. 9, 2023 in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Pazarcik, Turkey.

SUHAIB SALEM / REUTERS


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was scheduled to travel Thursday to the quake-hit provinces of Gaziantep, Osmaniye and Kilis amid ongoing criticism that the government’s response has been too slow.

According to the disaster management agency, more than 110,000 rescue personnel were now taking part in the effort and more than 5,500 vehicles, including tractors, cranes, bulldozers and excavators had been shipped.

The task is monumental, however, with thousands of buildings toppled by the earthquake.

Erdogan, who faces a tough battle for reelection in May, acknowledged problems with the emergency response to Monday’s 7.8-magnitude quake, but said the winter weather had been a factor. The earthquake also destroyed the runway at Hatay’s airport, further disrupting the response.

“It is not possible to be prepared for such a disaster,” Erdogan said. “We will not leave any of our citizens uncared for.” He also hit back at critics, saying “dishonorable people” were spreading “lies and slander” about the government’s actions.

Turkish authorities also said they were targeting disinformation, and the internet monitoring group NetBlocks said Wednesday that access to Twitter in Turkey had been restricted, despite it being used by survivors to alert rescuers. However, Twitter CEO Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday night that “Twitter has been informed by the Turkish government that access will be reenabled shortly.”

And NetBlocks tweeted Thursday that “access to Twitter is being restored in #Turkey following hours of filtering. The restoration comes after authorities held a meeting with Twitter to “remind Twitter of its obligations” on content takedowns and disinformation.”

Aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Pazarcik
A man walks past a partially collapsed building on Feb. 9, 2023 in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, in Pazarcik, Turkey.

SUHAIB SALEM / REUTERS


The disaster comes at a sensitive time for Erdogan, who faces an economic downturn and high inflation. Perceptions that his government mismanaged the crisis could hurt his standing. He said the government would distribute 10,000 Turkish lira ($532) to affected families.

Teams from more than two dozen countries have joined the local emergency personnel in the effort. But the scale of destruction from the quake and its powerful aftershocks was so immense and spread over such a wide area that many people were still awaiting help.

The region was already beset by more than a decade of civil war in Syria. Millions have been displaced within Syria itself, and millions more have sought refuge in Turkey.

In Syria, aid efforts have been hampered by the ongoing war and the isolation of the rebel-held region along the border, which is surrounded by Russia-backed government forces. Syria itself is an international pariah under Western sanctions linked to the war.

The earthquake’s toll has already outstripped that of a 7.8-magnitude quake in Nepal in 2015, when 8,800 died. A 2011 earthquake in Japan triggered a tsunami, killing nearly 20,000 people. 





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From the archives: Sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer

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From the archives: Sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer – CBS News


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Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the radio/TV host and bestselling author who had an impact on millions with her frank talk on sex, died Friday, July 12, 2024 at age 96. In this profile from correspondent Martha Teichner that originally aired on “CBS Sunday Morning” on February 17, 2002, Westheimer talked about championing sexual literacy, having fun being “Dr. Ruth,” and what she was looking for in a companion.

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7/13: Saturday Morning – CBS News

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President Biden returns to campaign trail in battleground states as pressure mounts to withdraw; World Series of Poker has drawn a record number of entrants.

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Son of Asia’s richest man gets married in the year’s most extravagant wedding

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The youngest son of Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, married his longtime girlfriend early Saturday in what many dubbed the wedding of the year, attended by global celebrities, business tycoons and politicians, highlighting the billionaire’s staggering wealth and rising clout.

The wedding rituals, including exchanging garlands by the couple and walking around the sacred fire, began Friday and were completed past midnight.

The celebrations of Anant Ambani marrying Radhika Merchant took place at the Ambani-owned Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai and the family home. The marriage culminated months of wedding events that featured performances by pop stars including Rihanna and Justin Bieber.

Guests Attend The Lagna Vidhi Of The Wedding Of Anant Ambani & Radhika Merchant
(L-R) Akash Ambani, Shloka Mehta, Mukesh Ambani, Nita Ambani, Isha Ambani and Anand Piramal Attend The Lagna Vidhi Of The Wedding Of Anant Ambani(R) & Radhika Merchant on July 12, 2024 in Mumbai, India.

Prodip Guha / Getty Images


Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended a reception organized by the Ambanis on Saturday evening.

The Ambanis hosted a “blessing ceremony” for friends and family members to meet the couple and wish them a happy married life.

India Today television news channel reported that the newlyweds touched Modi’s feet as a show of respect and sought his blessings.

Four days of wedding celebrations

The four-day wedding celebrations began Friday with the traditional Hindu wedding ceremony and will be followed by a grand reception to run through the weekend. The guest list includes former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Boris Johnson; John Kerry, the former U.S. special envoy for climate, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin H. Nasser; and Adele, Lana Del Rey, Drake and David Beckham, according to local media. The Ambani family did not confirm the guest list.

Television news channels showed the arrivals of celebrities like Kim Kardashian, who was dressed in red, and professional wrestler and Hollywood actor John Cena.

Kardashian sisters Kim and Khloé took a ride in a motorized rickshaw through bustling Mumbai streets Friday before joining the wedding ceremonies, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

kards.jpg
Kim and Khloe Kardashians shared photos and videos on social media ahead of the wedding of Anant Ambani.

Kim Kardashian


International guests wore traditional clothes by major Indian fashion designers. They put on embroidered sherwanis – long-sleeved outer coats worn by men in South Asia. Cena came in a sky-blue sherwani and white pants. Nick Jonas wore a pink sherwani and white pants.

Bollywood icons Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Ranbir Kapoor attended the wedding and danced to popular Hindi movie songs. Indian cricketers, including icons Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav, were among the invitees.

Police imposed traffic diversions around the wedding venue from Friday to Monday to handle the influx of guests who flew to Mumbai, where heavy monsoon rains have caused flooding and flight disruptions for the past week.

The extravaganza and the display of opulence that comes with the wedding have led many to raise questions about rising inequality in India, where the gap between rich and poor is growing. The event has also sparked anger among some Mumbai residents, who say they are struggling with snarled traffic.

“It affects our earnings. I don’t care much about the wedding,” said Vikram, a taxi driver who uses only one name.

Asia’s richest man

The father of the groom, Mukesh Ambani, is the world’s ninth-richest man, with a net worth of $116 billion, according to Forbes. He is the richest person in Asia. His Reliance Industries is a conglomerate reporting over $100 billion in annual revenue, with interests that include petrochemicals, oil and gas, telecoms and retail.

The Ambani family owns, among other assets, a 27-story family compound in Mumbai worth $1 billion. The building contains three helipads, a 160-car garage and a private movie theater.

The groom, 29-year-old Anant, oversees the conglomerate’s renewable and green energy expansion. He also runs a 3,000-acre (about 1,200-hectare) animal rescue center in Gujarat state’s Jamnagar, the family’s hometown.

The bride, Radhika Merchant, also 29, is the daughter of pharmaceutical tycoon Viren Merchant and is the marketing director for his company, Encore Healthcare, according to Vogue.

Ambani’s critics say his company has relied on political connections during Congress Party-led governments in the 1970s and ’80s, and under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule after 2014.

The Ambani family’s pre-wedding celebrations have been lavish and star-studded from the start.

Wedding Ceremony Of Anant Ambani And Radhika Merchant
Ambani Family during the Wedding ceremony of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant at the Jio World Convention Centre, BKC on July 12, 2024 in Mumbai, India.

Raju Shinde/Hindustan Times via Getty Images


In March, they threw a three-day prenuptial bash for Anant that had 1,200 guests, including former world leaders, tech tycoons and Bollywood megastars, and performances by Rihanna, Akon and Diljit Dosanjh, a Punjabi singer who shot to international fame when he performed at Coachella. The event was also attended by tech billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

It was the start of lavish, months-long pre-wedding celebrations that grabbed headlines and set off a social media frenzy.

In May, the family took guests on a three-day cruise from Italy to France, which included Katy Perry singing her hit song “Firework” and a performance by Pitbull, according to media reports.

The family also organized a mass wedding for more than 50 underprivileged couples on July 2 as part of the celebrations.

Last week, Justin Bieber performed for hundreds of guests at a pre-wedding concert that included performances by Bollywood stars Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh and Salman Khan.

Ambani also made headlines in 2018, when Beyoncé performed at pre-wedding festivities for his daughter. Former U.S. Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry were among those who rubbed shoulders with Indian celebrities and Bollywood stars in the western Indian city of Udaipur.



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