FirstFT: Rescuers work overnight after earthquakes kill thousands in Turkey and Syria
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Rescue teams in Turkey and Syria worked through the night against freezing temperatures to pull survivors out of rubble after a powerful earthquake devastated several big cities and left more than 3,500 people dead and more than 15,000 wounded.
The effort came after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck near the city of Gaziantep, Turkey, in the early hours yesterday, toppling buildings over a vast area and setting off a series of aftershocks. A second, 7.5 magnitude quake came hours later near Kahramanmaraş, about 40 miles away, compounding the devastation.
The death toll in Turkey reached 2,921 people, with 15,834 people injured. At least 650 people were killed in government-held areas in Syria, with more than 1,400 injured. In the rebel-held north-west, at least 700 people died and more than 2,000 were injured.
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has declared a seven-day mourning period across the country and warned that the death toll and injuries are likely to keep rising as rescue efforts continue.
The US is sending search and rescue teams and health services personnel, while Turkey’s Red Crescent humanitarian organisation has set up mobile kitchens and catering facilities and sent almost 2,000 tents and 27,000 blankets to the affected areas.
As international aid efforts gather to contain the deepening humanitarian crisis, scenes of desperation are playing out across the region. One man in Elbistan, a town close to the epicentre, videoed flattened buildings in disbelief, crying out: “We are without hope.”
Five more stories in the news
1. No plans to return Chinese balloon The US said yesterday there were no plans to return debris from the balloon it shot down on Saturday, even after technical experts finish analysing the surveillance capabilities that were on board the craft. Washington also stressed it was still committed to stabilising relations with China.
2. UK to design ‘digital pound’ The UK Treasury and Bank of England are designing a “digital pound” that could supplant banknotes by the end of this decade and fend off potential Big Tech competitors. With the decline of cash, ministers and officials said there was likely to be a need for a publicly backed digital currency that ensured the central bank retained control of the heart of the UK financial system.
3. Google’s answer to ChatGPT The Silicon Valley giant has revealed plans to launch a chatbot, more than two months after rival OpenAI publicly released its popular ChatGPT. Called Bard, Google’s chatbot will give users access to its most powerful language-based artificial intelligence system as it seeks to make up for lost ground in the race to bring AI to internet search.
4. New Carlyle chief could make $180mn in 5 years Carlyle Group’s new chief executive Harvey Schwartz stands to make more than $180mn over the next five years, a pay deal that would make him one of Wall Street’s highest-paid executives. Part of the Goldman Sachs veteran’s pay package will be based on Carlyle’s share performance.
5. Ukraine’s ammo supply chain crisis The war is consuming ammunition at unprecedented rates, with Ukraine firing more than 5,000 artillery rounds a day — equal to a smaller European country’s orders in an entire year in peacetime. Defence manufacturers are struggling to maintain supplies to Kyiv while replenishing national stockpiles.
The day ahead
State of the Union address US president Joe Biden is expected to revive plans for a tax on billionaires while touting job figures and efforts to cut inflation in his annual address to Congress.
BBC chair inquiry Richard Sharp, who has been accused of helping former UK prime minister Boris Johnson to arrange for a loan while applying for his current BBC position, will face questions from a UK parliamentary committee.
French strikes A third wave of nationwide protests against plans to raise the retirement age is expected to disrupt rail and air traffic in France, while the reforms have met stiff resistance in parliament.
Economic data France, the US and Canada release December trade balance figures, and Germany and Spain have industrial production figures for the same month.
Corporate results BNP Paribas, BP, Carlsberg and SoftBank report.
What else we’re reading
Russia expands its influence in Africa In Europe, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has been humiliating and costly. But in Africa, Russia has been making dramatic inroads, helped by a volatile mix of jihadist terror, anti-French sentiment and coups d’état. It has succeeded in challenging western influence and established what a senior adviser to Emmanuel Macron calls “a second front”.
Wirecard’s ‘Baron Münchhausen’ A Financial Times analysis of Wirecard emails and other documents has revealed several examples where Wirecard CEO Markus Braun was accused of making incorrect and misleading statements to investors. The incidents raise further questions about Braun’s credibility, just as he is due to take the stand at the high-profile Munich trial examining the failure of the company.
Opinion: Central banks are not here to make profits Unlike businesses, central banks have a mandate to act in the public interest: to safeguard the value of the money they issue so that people can make financial decisions with confidence. Making a loss is sometimes the price to pay for keeping economies stable in extraordinary times, writes Agustín Carstens, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements.
Start-ups try to lend insight to Nigeria’s election Polling start-ups are aiming to deliver high-quality, publicly available information for the first time ahead of Nigeria’s presidential vote, one of the world’s most complex electoral races. While election polling has been done in the country before, the surveys are usually commissioned by political parties and other organisations for internal use.
Opinion: Brexit could be reversed — here’s how At the height of Britain’s Brexit debate, passions ran so high that some talked of a “new English civil war”, writes Gideon Rachman. But the side that won the civil war ultimately lost, as the English restored the monarchy 11 years after King Charles I was executed in 1649. Could a similar reversal happen with Brexit?
Take a break from the news
Where can you find the best Japanese food in London? Tim Hayward points to Jugemu, a tiny 20-seater in Soho.
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