House mourns Turkish Cypriot quake victims

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The flags outside parliament are at half-mast as a sign of mourning for the 48 Turkish Cypriot victims of the deadly earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

The decision comes after the last back-to-back funerals for 48 people in the north, including 24 children in Turkey on a school volleyball trip when their hotel collapsed.

According to a parliament statement, House Speaker Annita Demetriou and MPs “express their immense sadness for the death of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots in the recent deadly earthquakes”.

“Shock and pain prevail over the children’s smiles that were silenced under the ruins, the untimely death of the children, their parents and teachers and the unbearable pain of their relatives.

“As a sign of grave mourning, the flags of the House of Representatives are flying at half-mast.

“On behalf of all members of the body, we convey our sincere condolences to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots”.

The children, aged 11 to 14, stayed at the Grand Isias hotel in Adiyaman when the deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake in southern Turkey struck on 6 February.

They were part of the team from Turkish Maarif College in Famagusta, in the north, that travelled to Adiyaman for the tournament with their trainers, teachers and parents.

According to reports, they had won a match that day before going to bed in the 10-floor hotel.

Ten parents, four teachers and a trainer were also killed when the quake destroyed the hotel and left them trapped beneath the rubble.

President Nicos Anastasiades on Sunday Tweeted his condolences to the families of the Turkish Cypriot earthquake victims.

“We reiterate our deep sadness for the loss of our 48 Turkish Cypriot compatriots, among them 24 children, and we express our condolences to the families of the victims and the Turkish Cypriot community for the devastating loss they have endured”.

The University of Cyprus was the first institution to react to the loss of almost 50 Turkish Cypriots by deciding to fly flags half-mast.

The authorities in the north have demanded a criminal investigation into the owners of the Isias Hotel, where the entire volleyball team was found dead.

In previous days, media reports had suggested that the hotel was unsafe.

Some reports claimed the hotel owners had removed pillars from the ground floor to make way for the lobby.

A Cyprus-wide effort is ongoing to collect aid for the victims of the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) is collecting donations at the Ledra Palace Hotel from 8 am until 8 pm.

Death toll

The death toll from earthquakes has surpassed 37,000.

Turkish authorities say 31,974 people have been killed, while more than 5,800 people are dead in Syria.

The WHO describes the earthquakes in Turkey as the worst natural disaster in a century.

More than 8,000 people have been pulled out alive from rubble in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

Syria has allowed the UN to deliver aid to rebel-held parts of northwest Syria through two more border crossings from Turkey.

The UN estimates that up to 5.3 million people in Syria may be homeless after the earthquakes.

Nearly 900,000 people urgently need hot food in Turkey and Syria.