Turkey’s Emergency Shelter for the First Day of a Massive Earthquake: a Surprise for the Serendipitous Typhoid
ANTAKYA and ISTANBUL, Turkey — Rescue workers in Turkey and Syria pushed into a third day of recovery operations on Wednesday as the death toll from this week’s massive earthquake reached a grim milestone.
The earthquake which killed at least seven people in southern Turkey and injured many more in Syria is believed to be the most powerful one to hit the planet in a decade. More than 18,000 people were killed in the earthquake and wave in Japan.
Seyhun Puskulcu, a seismologist and coordinator of the Turkish Earthquake Foundation, based in Istanbul, says people in Turkey are well aware of their vulnerability to earthquakes. Puskulcu was in Adana, Tarsus, and Mersin last week to give workshops on earthquake awareness and he said this wasn’t a surprise.
In the city of Antakya, resident Hamideh Mansulolu stood outside what used to be the seven-story residential building where she lived with her family, waiting to hear whether her son, Sedat, survived.
Aid groups consider the first 72 hours after a natural disaster as crucial for rescuing survivors. In neighboring Syria, the government has blamed Western sanctions for hampering relief efforts, but the U.S. says sanctions do not include humanitarian assistance. The only UN authorized road from Turkey to northern Syria is damaged by the earthquake, and there isn’t any heavy equipment or other infrastructure there to help the hundreds of thousands displaced.
Iran, Libya, and the U.A.A. sent hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Syria while many other countries sent aid to Turkey, as well as more than 5,000 rescue workers.
Turkey’s emergency management agency, AFAD, reports it has set up more than 70,000 tents for emergency shelter to the more than 380,000 people who have been temporarily displaced by this disaster.
Earthquakes and Aftershocks: How Turkey is moving towards the west after the Monday morning earthquakes? A young girl in Istanbul says she was wrapped in a blanket
Researchers say people need to brace themselves for yet more quakes and aftershocks, as well as deteriorating weather. The possibility of larger earthquakes will continue for weeks and months, says Ilan Kelman, who studies disasters and health.
Most of Turkey sits on the Anatolian plate between two major faults: the North Anatolian Fault and the East Anatolian Fault. The southern part of the plate that carries Arabia, including Syria, is moving northwards, squeezing Turkey out towards the west, according to a scientist at the Open University. Turkey is moving west about 2 centimetres a year. “Half the length of this fault is lit up now with earthquakes.”
The epicenter was 26 kilometres east of the city of Nurdai in Turkey’s Gaziantep province. The magnitude-7.5 event occurred around 4 kilometres southeast of Ekinözü in the Kahramanmaraş province (see ‘Earthquakes and aftershocks’).
In a study1 published last March in Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering, Arzu Arslan Kelam at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, and her colleagues suggested that the centre of the city of Gaziantep would experience medium-to-severe damage from a magnitude-6.5 earthquake. Most of the existing buildings are brick structures that are close to each other.
The conflict in Syria has made it impossible to enforce building standards. The earthquake struck Syria’s northwestern regions, with buildings collapsing in Aleppo and Idlib. There are some war damaged buildings in Syria that have been rebuilt using low-quality materials. “They might have fallen down more readily than things that were built at somewhat greater expense. We’ve yet to find out,” he adds.
Heavy machinery has been increasingly brought into areas where a day earlier cautious searchers relied on their hands to dig through the rubble. The chance of surviving many more hours in the cold should be weighed against those who are trapped alive.
The body of a 4-year-old girl wrapped in a pink blanket was brought out Wednesday from the wreckage of a building in the Turkish city of Kahramanmaras. She’s one of the latest young victims of Monday’s massive quake.
Elsewhere, excavators dug out the body of man believed to be a Syrian refugee in his 40s, who seemed to be on a mattress, like many of those who died after the quake struck around 4 a.m.
In a neighboring building, also collapsed, rescuers were digging down from the top to try to reach one or possibly two people thought to be alive. A generator was brought up to power a pneumatic hand-operated drill as the man directed it toclear the rubble with his bare hands.
The rescuers said there was still more work to be done, even though he spotted signs of life beneath the wreck.
According to a man volunteering at the hospitals in Kahramanmaras, there were hundreds of bodies in the morgue that hadn’t been collected by relatives because they had died.
Prime Minister Reisenbaker-Satsang, a Turkish Prime Minister of Kahramanmaras, during a visit to the country’s disaster management agency
Flanked by officials, he visited an emergency relief area set up by the country’s disaster management agency, AFAD. Row after row of shining white tents could be seen in the sports stadium, destined to house some of the thousands of families who’ve lost their homes.
The Kahramanmaras region would be rebuilt in a year, and people would get assistance with emergency housing, according to a televised address by the prime minister.
The president said that they could never let their citizens stay on the streets. “Our state is using all its resources with AFAD and municipalities. We will continue to do so.”
He acknowledged the government’s initial response had some problems in terms of natural gas supply and roads, but said the situation was under control. The government is going to give 10,000 Turkish liras to help families who have been impacted.
In the city of Kahramanmaras, there are many buildings that have not been damaged by the recent earthquakes, although a few have suffered less obvious damage.
At the bottom of the city, many people could be heard crying and lamenting by the tumbled buildings where they or their relatives lived until disaster struck.
A handful clutched photographs of loved ones who are under the rubble, less in hope of their rescue than as an act of remembrance – holding out snaps of their children or wedding pictures and saying “they are gone.”
Observational warning of “catastrophic” repercussions in northwest Syria after a three-month state of emergency
Aid agencies warn of “catastrophic” repercussions in northwest Syria after a three-month state of emergency was declared in 10 Turkish provinces.