Turkish emergency teams drilled through the rubble Monday, searching for the last two missing quake victims believed trapped beneath a collapsed building after eastern Turkey was slammed by a powerful tremor.
The magnitude 6.8 earthquake that struck Friday night killed at least 39 people and injured more than 1,600 others, authorities said. At least 45 survivors were pulled out of the rubble alive.
Rescue workers were working at a collapsed building in the city of Elazig, trying to reach a missing 75-year old woman and another person, as relatives waited patiently nearby, NTV television reported. It was not immediately clear if the missing two have survived.
The body of a third missing person was pulled out of the collapsed structure overnight, raising the death toll in the quake to 39, NTV reported.
The quake destroyed 76 buildings and damaged more than 1,000 others, forcing survivors to take refuge in tents, mosques, schools, sports halls and student dormitories. Authorities warned people not to return to homes that could be unsafe.
As overnight temperatures dropped to -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit), emergency teams set up more than 9,500 tents for displaced residents and distributed hot meals.
Over the weekend, rescuers pulled out Ayse Yildiz, 35, and her 2-year-old daughter Yusra from the rubble of another toppled apartment building in Elazig. They had been trapped for 28 hours.
One rescued couple was reunited with a Syrian student who had helped to dig them out with his hands.
"He is our hero and angel," a weeping Dudane Aydin said of Mahmud al Osman.
Her husband Zulkuf said the student went to extraordinary lengths to get them out, especially when his wife's leg was trapped by debris. With other workers holding the student by his legs, he stretched toward the woman and freed her.
Turkey's Emergency and Disaster Management Presidency said close to 4,000 workers and 22 dogs have been involved in the search-and-rescue operation since Friday.
Earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, which sits atop two major fault lines.
Friday's quake hit at 8:55 p.m in the city that lies 565 kilometers (350 miles) east of Ankara. It was followed by hundreds of aftershocks.
It's not the first time that Elazig has seen a fatal quake — a magnitude 6.0 earthquake killed 51 people there in 2010.
Turkey's worst quake in decades came in 1999, when a pair of strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey, killing around 18,000 people.
(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)
Haitao Guo, University of Pittsburgh; Guangxiang "George" Luo, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Shou-Jiang Gao, University of Pittsburgh
(THE CONVERSATION) Snakes – the Chinese krait and the Chinese cobra – may be the original source of the newly discovered coronavirus that has triggered an outbreak of a deadly infectious respiratory illness in China this winter.
The illness was first reported in late December 2019 in Wuhan, a major city in central China, and has been rapidly spreading. Since then, sick travelers from Wuhan have infected people in China and other countries, including the United States.
Using samples of the virus isolated from patients, scientists in China have determined the genetic code of the virus and used microscopes to photograph it. The pathogen responsible for this pandemic is a new coronavirus. It's in the same family of viruses as the well-known severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which have killed hundreds of people in the past 17 years. The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV.
We arevirologists and journal editors and are closely following this outbreak because there are many questions that need to be answered to curb the spread of this public health threat.
What is a coronavirus?
The name of coronavirus comes from its shape, which resembles a crown or solar corona when imaged using an electron microscope.
Coronavirus is transmitted through the air and primarily infects the upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tract of mammals and birds. Though most of the members of the coronavirus family only cause mild flu-like symptoms during infection, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV can infect both upper and lower airways and cause severe respiratory illness and other complications in humans.
This new 2019-nCoV causes similar symptoms to SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. People infected with these coronaviruses suffer a severe inflammatory response.
Unfortunately, there is no approved vaccine or antiviral treatment available for coronavirus infection. A better understanding of the life cycle of 2019-nCoV, including the source of the virus, how it is transmitted and how it replicates are needed to both prevent and treat the disease.
Both SARS and MERS are classified as zoonotic viral diseases, meaning the first patients who were infected acquired these viruses directly from animals. This was possible because while in the animal host, the virus had acquired a series of genetic mutations that allowed it to infect and multiply inside humans.
Now these viruses can be transmitted from person to person. Field studies have revealed that the original source of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV is the bat, and that the masked palm civets (a mammal native to Asia and Africa) and camels, respectively, served as intermediate hosts between bats and humans.
In the case of this 2019 coronavirus outbreak, reports state that most of the first group of patients hospitalized were workers or customers at a local seafood wholesale market which also sold processed meats and live consumable animals including poultry, donkeys, sheep, pigs, camels, foxes, badgers, bamboo rats, hedgehogs and reptiles. However, since no one has ever reported finding a coronavirus infecting aquatic animals, it is plausible that the coronavirus may have originated from other animals sold in that market.
The hypothesis that the 2019-nCoV jumped from an animal at the market is strongly supported by a new publication in the Journal of Medical Virology. The scientists conducted an analysis and compared the genetic sequences of 2019-nCoV and all other known coronaviruses.
The study of the genetic code of 2019-nCoV reveals that the new virus is most closely related to two bat SARS-like coronavirus samples from China, initially suggesting that, like SARS and MERS, the bat might also be the origin of 2019-nCoV. The authors further found that the viral RNA coding sequence of 2019-nCoV spike protein, which forms the "crown" of the virus particle that recognizes the receptor on a host cell, indicates that the bat virus might have mutated before infecting people.
But when the researchers performed a more detailed bioinformatics analysis of the sequence of 2019-nCoV, it suggests that this coronavirus might come from snakes.
From bats to snakes
The researchers used an analysis of the protein codes favored by the new coronavirus and compared it to the protein codes from coronaviruses found in different animal hosts, like birds, snakes, marmots, hedgehogs, manis, bats and humans. Surprisingly, they found that the protein codes in the 2019-nCoV are most similar to those used in snakes.
Snakes often hunt for bats in wild. Reports indicate that snakes were sold in the local seafood market in Wuhan, raising the possibility that the 2019-nCoV might have jumped from the host species – bats – to snakes and then to humans at the beginning of this coronavirus outbreak. However, how the virus could adapt to both the cold-blooded and warm-blooded hosts remains a mystery.
The authors of the report and other researchers must verify the origin of the virus through laboratory experiments. Searching for the 2019-nCoV sequence in snakes would be the first thing to do. However, since the outbreak, the seafood market has been disinfected and shut down, which makes it challenging to trace the new virus' source animal.
Sampling viral RNA from animals sold at the market and from wild snakes and bats is needed to confirm the origin of the virus. Nonetheless, the reported findings will also provide insights for developing prevention and treatment protocols.
The 2019-nCoV outbreak is another reminder that people should limit the consumption of wild animals to prevent zoonotic infections.
This article has been updated to clarify that the genetic material from the virus was RNA, not DNA.
Kobe Bryant was a hugely popular figure in Asia, no more so than in China where basketball rivals soccer as the most popular sport.
However, his death Sunday in a helicopter accident comes at an awkward time between the country and the league. National broadcaster CCTC pulled all NBA games off the air following a tweet in October from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressing support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests.
The Chinese Basketball Association, led by former Rockets MVP Yao Ming, announced it would suspend all cooperation with the Texas-based team. Yao and the association have yet to comment on the crash Sunday in California that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people.
However, Yi Jianlian, the other Chinese player to find major success in the NBA, took to China's Weibo micro-blogging site to praise Bryant for teaching him the value of persistence.
"Thank you! Kobe! Hope father and daughter continue to enjoy basketball in heaven! We will always remember you!," wrote Yi, who signed with six different NBA teams, including briefly the Lakers in 2016. "Rest in peace to the legend," he added in English.
Bryant's popularity among Chinese fans was rivaled only by Yao, LeBron James and Michael Jordan. His playing appearances, including the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics won by the U.S., were far exceeded by his promotional appearances in the country, both on behalf of his own brand and basketball generally. At a 2013 Lakers preseason game against Golden State in Beijing, the arena rang out with chants of "Kobe! Kobe!" despite the injured superstar not even having suited up for the game.
Commemorations begin rolling in online, many of the accompanied by photos of Yao and Gianna with the letters R.I.P. Others showed the two dressed in uniform walking away into clouds under a basketball net.
"For our generation, our memories of the NBA begin with Jordan, and move through Kobe and Yao Ming. You were a part of our youth. Already missing the bright sun of Kobe. Go well," wrote commentator "ZhanHao" on the popular Twitter-like Weibo messaging service.
"Your willpower has inspired a generation. Thank you," wrote "Teacher Kai Ting." "I hope there is basketball in heaven. Kobe just went to another world to play basketball with his daughter," wrote "Cici's green paper."
The Australian Open tweeted its condolences to the grieving families, and Romania's Simona Halep said after winning her fourth round match that Bryant's death was a "huge loss for the world, for the sport." Australian tennis legend Rod Laver tweeted he was "terribly sad to wake up to this news."
In Taiwan, where the NBA also is an enormous draw, President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted that her "thoughts go out to the Bryant family & the families of all those who lost loved ones today."
"Kobe inspired a generation of young Taiwanese basketball players, & his legacy will live on through those who loved him," Tsai wrote.
Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo noted that Bryant had been a frequent visitor to the Philippines. "He was well-loved by his Filipino fans," Panelo said in a statement.
"On the hard court, he was a sight to behold with his dexterity and accuracy in sinking that ball in the ring. He was a master of his craft. The basketball world has lost one of its legendary greats," Panelo said. "The Palace extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, loved ones and fans around the globe who Kobe left behind. We share in their grief."
In Japan, Tetsunori Tanimoto, an official at the Kobe Beef Marketing & Distribution Promotion Association, in Kobe, central Japan, expressed his deep condolences for Kobe Bryant's death.
"He helped make Kobe Beef known throughout the world," he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press Monday.
Kobe got his name, the legend goes, after his father ate Kobe beef during a visit to Japan and loved the taste.
Tanimoto, who watches NBA games on TV but has never met Bryant, said people know the story about how Bryant got his name.
"We have always felt a closeness to him," he said. "It is so sad. And we offer our deepest condolences."
An Iranian passenger airliner carrying some 150 passengers skidded off the runway and into a street next to the airport in the southern city of Mahshahr on Monday, after apparently losing its landing gear in a hard landing.
No major injuries were reported. The passengers calmly exited the plane from a front door and one over the wing, still with carry-on baggage in hand, according to footage posted on state-run TV's website. The footage showed passengers being helped to the street below by people on the ground.
Provincial airport director Mohammad Reza Rezanian said all of the passengers had been safely taken off the plane.
It seems that tragedy was narrowly avoided, however, as images from the scene showed the plane had ground to a halt not far from a populated area.
The incident comes as Iran is still coping with the aftermath of the accidental downing of a Ukrainian airliner over Tehran. The plane was shot down by the Revolutionary Guard earlier this month amid heightened tensions with the United States, killing all 176 people aboard.
Iranian state television said the plane involved in Monday's incident came in harder than usual and lost its landing gear as it hit the tarmac.
No landing gear was evident in pictures of the plane after the accident, but it was not immediately clear if it failed to deploy or somehow collapsed as the jet hit runway at about 9:30 a.m. local time. The accident is under investigation, officials said.
The flight from the Tehran-based airline originated in the Iranian capital.
Iranian reports identified the plane only as a McDonnell Douglas without being more specific, but Caspian has only the McDonnell Douglas MD-83s in its fleet.
India said Monday it plans to sell its entire stake in the national carrier Air India to shore up falling revenues and privatize the airline, after an initial attempt last year failed to attract a single bidder.
The government issued a document on Monday inviting initial expressions of interest in the airline, which has accumulated huge losses in the past decade.
The document set March 17 as the deadline for submissions and said the bidders would have to absorb a 232 billion rupees ($3.26 billion) of the airline's 580 billion rupee ($8 billion) debt burden.
The plan to privatize Air India, which operates both domestic and international routes, is an effort to revive the airline.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is moving to privatize various state-owned enterprises to help repair government finances and give the economy a boost. Growth slowed to a 4.5% annual pace in the July-September quarter, its slowest rate since mid-2018.
Modi's government has high hopes that foreign investors will participate in the Air India bidding. It wants to raise 1.05 trillion rupees ($14.6 billion) through the sale of public assets by March 2020.
Air India carried 18.36 million domestic passengers in 2019 and has suffered from overly bureaucratic management and political interference as privately-owned low-cost airlines have gained market share. It has been incurring losses since its 2007 merger with another state-owned domestic carrier, Indian Airlines.
The new owner will be taking on a fleet of 121 Air India aircraft and 25 planes in the Air India Express fleet.
The news agency Press Trust of India reported that various Air India employee unions will meet on Monday to discuss the proposed privatization plan.
Last week, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its economic growth forecast for India and said the country's slowing growth was the single biggest drag on its global growth forecast in the past two years.