Austrian army suspends rescue operations in Turkey

The Austrian army suspended its rescue operations in Turkey on Saturday morning, citing “the security situation” on the spot, after the powerful earthquake which killed more than 24,000 people. “There have been attacks between groups,” a spokesman in Vienna told AFP, without giving further details.

The 82 soldiers of the AFDRU special relief unit (Austrian forces disaster relief unit) took shelter in a base camp in the province of Hatay “with other international organizations, pending directions,” he added. They arrived on Tuesday with 45 tonnes of equipment and were able to extricate nine people from the rubble, according to a statement released on Friday.

“The situation is being examined”

Their return to Austria is currently still scheduled for Thursday but “the situation is being examined,” said the spokesperson. According to the latest official reports, the earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.8, killed at least 24,218 people: 20,665 in Turkey and 3,553 in Syria.

On both sides of the border, thousands of homes were destroyed and rescuers redoubled their efforts to search for survivors.

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