Disasters & Accidents

‘Corpses are everywhere’: Desperation grows over Turkey’s quake response

By Dogan Tilic

Ankara, Feb 8 (EFE).- Conditions in the 10 Turkish provinces devastated by recent powerful earthquakes along the Turkish-Syrian border grew more dire by the minute as survivors struggled to meet their most basic needs amid freezing weather.

Monday’s magnitude-7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes and cascade of aftershocks have killed more than 8,500 people and injured nearly 50,000 others in Turkey alone so far after toppling almost 6,000 buildings, according to the latest government figures.

Turkish journalists reported early Wednesday that there are hundreds of collapsed buildings in the cities of Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Iskenderun and Malatya where no rescue teams have arrived.

According to Halk TV, surviving women, children and elderly in Malatya were left with no access to basic necessities as temperatures dropped several degrees below zero.

In several damaged areas, frustration built up over a lack of machinery needed to dig people out from the rubble amid cries for help.

“No one in the city can enter any building due to the danger of collapse. Something as simple as going to the toilet has become a huge problem. There is no water at home or fuel at the gas stations,” Halk TV reported.

“People are trying to warm up in their cars, but they can’t refill their tanks,” it added.

Yildirim Kurt, a farmer in the Nurhak district of Kahramanmaras, one of the worst-hit areas, told Efe over the phone that no help had reached his small town yet.

Halk TV reporter Seyhan Asker said Wednesday morning that all houses in Islahiye, a town in Hatay with 60,000 people, have to be rebuilt.

“No one can even live in the houses that were not destroyed. Half of the town’s houses are flattened.”

Mustafa Kara, who lost his wife in Kahramanmaras after a nine-story building collapsed, told Halk TV angrily: “There is nothing. We cannot bury our dead. There are corpses everywhere.”

“More than 900 buildings have collapsed. If each has between eight and 10 apartments then how many people are under the rubble? There is no electricity, no gasoline, and people loot supermarkets. There is no food, no milk for the children,” Kara decried.

In Iskenderun, a post-quake fire in the port and the rising sea levels made it difficult to evacuate the injured to other cities by sea.

A container filled with chemicals caught fire right after the earthquakes and flames spread to other containers in the port. The fire could not be brought under control despite military intervention.

While criticism of the government intensifies for allegedly not taking the necessary measures, mismanaging the crisis, and not sending the army on time, main news channels focus on the people rescued alive.

A 24-year-old teacher was pulled alive from under a collapsed building in Hatay 49 hours after the earthquake. An hour before, two other women were also saved in the same area, the Anadolu news agency reported.

Dams in the region are becoming a matter of concern too with cracks being reported in some of them due to tremors.

“We have 110 dams and we have completed tests on 90 of them so far because there is a risk in seismic periods,” said minister of agriculture Vahit Kirisci.EFE


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