Turkey and Syria rushed to rescue after the 2011 quake: I’m afraid I can’t go home, but I can still be with my son
Rescue workers were racing against time to find people alive in Turkey and Syria after this week’s massive earthquake and aftershocks.
The magnitude 7.8 quake, which occurred in southern Turkey and collapsed buildings in that country and Syria, is the deadliest seismic event in the world in more than a decade. A 2011 earthquake in Japan triggered a tsunami that killed more than 19,000 people.
Erdogan and aid workers said the scale of the quake was so large that it was difficult to reach everyone everywhere. In a speech, the president said nobody would be left in the streets.
I am certain that my son is still alive, and that he is inside. Her brother dug with his hands to find him. As diggers tore apart the building, rescuers found the body of one of their own and wrapped it in a blanket for his mother to say goodbye.
The North-West Anatolian Fault of Turkey and Syria: Aftershocks from the 2011 October 11 Earthquake and the Impact on Building Standards in Syria
The first 72 hours after a disaster are crucial in saving survivors. The US says sanctions aren’t included in humanitarian assistance in Syria. Regardless, northern Syria lacks the heavy equipment and other infrastructure to come to the aid of the hundreds of thousands displaced by this disaster, and the only U.N.-authorized road from Turkey to that region has been damaged by the quake.
Iran, Libya, and the United Arab Emirates have sent hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aid to Syria, and dozens of countries have sent aid to Turkey, including more than 5,000 rescue workers who are arriving in the disaster area.
More than 400,000 people have been temporarily displaced by the disaster, and Turkey’s emergency management agency has set up over 67,000 tents for them to stay.
People need to prepare for more earthquakes as well as a change in weather. “The possibility for major aftershocks causing even more damage will continue for weeks and months,” says Ilan Kelman, who studies disasters and health at University College London.
Most of Turkey is located between the North and East Anatolian Faults. The tectonic plate that carries Arabia, including Syria, is moving northwards and colliding with the southern rim of Eurasia, which is squeezing Turkey out towards the west, says David Rothery, a geoscientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK. “Turkey is moving west about 2 centimetres per year along the East Anatolian Fault,” he adds. Half the length of the fault has been lit up by earthquakes.
The epicentre of the main earthquake was 26 kilometres east of the city of Nurdaği in Turkey’s Gaziantep province, at a depth of 17.9 kilometres. There was an earthquake that occurred around 4 kilometres southeast of Ekinz in the Kahramanmara province.
Deaths in earthquakes are often caused by falling bricks and masonry. Many people in Turkey who were affected by the earthquake lived in structures that were extremely likely to be damaged by shaking because they were unreinforced brick masonry and low-rise concrete frames.
Things are worse in Syria, where more than 11 years of conflict have made building standards impossible to enforce. The earthquake struck Syria’s northwestern regions, with buildings collapsing in Aleppo and Idlib. Some war-damaged buildings in Syria have been rebuilt using low-quality materials or “whatever materials are available”, says Rothery. “They might have fallen down more readily than things that were built at somewhat greater expense. He said that they have yet to find out.
“The weather forecast for the region for tonight is dropping below freezing. That means that people who are trapped in the rubble, who might be rescued, could well freeze to death. So these hazards continue,” he adds.
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 was one of the young victims of Monday’s huge earthquake.
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; the man directing it cleared away the rubble with his bare hands.
He appeared to have spotted signs of life beneath the wreckage, but rescuers sent away a waiting ambulance, saying there was still a lot of work to do.
The man volunteering at a hospital said there were 350 bodies in the mortuary that weren’t collected by family members because they had died.
The destruction of buildings in the city of Kahramanmaras by the earthquakes: a visit by the UN-AAFAD relief area
Flanked by officials, he visited an emergency relief area set up by the country’s disaster management agency, AFAD. The sports stadium was home to a row of bright white tents that would be used to house families who have lost their homes.
In a televised briefing from the relief center, the president said that people would get help with emergency housing and that the government was aiming to rebuild the Kahramanmaras region in one year.
“We can never let our citizens stay on the streets,” Erdogan said. “Our state is using all its resources with AFAD and municipalities. We will continue to do that.
He acknowledged the government had some problems with the natural gas supply and roads in its initial response but said the situation was under control. The government is planning to give 10,000 Turkish liras (around $531 USD) to help families impacted, he added.
Very few buildings in the city of Kahramanmaras have been left unscathed by the quakes, although those in mostly newer neighborhoods higher up the valley have suffered less obvious damage.
Many people cried and moaned at the fallen buildings where they lived until the 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.”
Erdospheric Impact of Erdogan’s Emergency Plan of Action During an Earthquake: Turkey’s High School Student Aid Effort
Aid agencies warn of catastrophic repercussions in northwest Syria, as a three-month state of emergency has been declared in 10 Turkish provinces.
Rescue crews battled freezing temperatures to pull corpses from the rubble of thousands of buildings that have fallen throughout southern Turkey and northern Syria. The 72-hour mark since Monday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake has now passed, a critical time window that experts say is when most survivors from disasters are found.
Istanbul’s stock exchange closed until Feb. 15 after initial trading showed rapid declines, triggering a circuit breaker when declines reached 7%. Turkey’s economy was already reeling from inflation.
National funds intended for natural disasters like this were instead spent on highway construction projects with the approval of the coalition government.
In 1999, a massive earthquake in northwestern Turkey killed over 18,000 people, and the authorities imposed an earthquake tax in order to raise money for disaster relief.
Ozel says it’s not just a “near-total incompetence on preparedness on the part of the government” in responding to this week’s earthquake. ” To make matters worse, the government is making it impossible for other organizations, civilsociety, citizens themselves and mayors and municipalities to actually help,” he says.
Erdogan’s centralization of Turkey’s government has meant a plethora of restrictions on how individual cities and aid organizations can operate in the country, hampering overall rescue efforts. Turkey’s embassies along with other nongovernmental organizations and cultural associations are collecting donations outside of Turkey.
With an election expected by June, Ozel says Erdogan has already been weakened by out-of-control inflation in Turkey. “I would expect the government to actually be one of the victims under the rubble of this earthquake,” Ozel predicts.
The high school student worked on the aid effort for three days. Korkmaz can help out after schools throughout Turkey were ordered closed to mourn the victims of the earthquake.
“We’ve managed to load 18 semitrucks and send them to the earthquake zone. They’re filled with blankets, clothes, but there is a more urgent need for food,” he says, as he loads a box underneath a banner with the image of Erdogan hanging from the ceiling. It doesn’t matter if we can get it to them. People need food.