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Survivors Still Struggling a Month After Turkey’s Devastating Earthquakes

Survivors of an earthquake in southern Turkey that affected 11 provinces with a total population of nearly 13 million and has claimed the lives of over 45,000 people in the country since Feb. 6 are still facing problems a month after the disaster.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Turkey’s south on Feb. 6, which was followed by a number of aftershocks including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region, killing 45,968 people in Turkey, including 4,267 Syrians, according to the latest official figures.

According to a report by the Voice of America Turkish edition on Monday, Environment Minister Murat Kurum said over the weekend that they had examined 1,728,000 buildings in earthquake areas and found 227,027 of them, which include 481,000 apartments, to be “severely damaged, collapsed or to be demolished immediately.”

While 64,729 of those buildings are located in Hatay, one of the areas hardest hit by the powerful earthquakes, 31,124 are in Malatya and 28,811 are in Adıyaman, VOA said.

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Saturday informed the public that they had set up 370,482 tents in 332 “tent cities” in the earthquake zone and were hosting a total of 1.5 million earthquake survivors there.

Soylu also said they were planning to set up 21,895 containers in 209 areas in the 11 provinces most affected by the quakes.

According to a statement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last week, a total of 4.1 million people left their homes in the disaster area and moved either to other cities or villages.

The latest statistics released by Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) showed that they have been providing accommodation to 329,960 earthquake survivors in other provinces.

Education Minister Mahmut Özer also said in a written statement last week that a total of 202,817 students studying in the provinces hit by the earthquake had been relocated to other cities.

Özer said the highest number of relocations were made to Ankara (27,679), followed by Antalya (18,922), Mersin (18,878), İstanbul (15,019) and Konya (11,366).

Meanwhile, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) released a video on Twitter about the earthquake on its one-month anniversary on Monday.

The video included statements by Erdoğan, his ally Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Soylu, AFAD general manager Orhan Tatar and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar denying claims that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government did a poor job of coordinating search and rescue and relief efforts after the quakes.

“One month has passed. We couldn’t count our losses, we couldn’t find shrouds for those whom we lost. We will not allow the denial of [the victims’] suffering or fascist delusions. However, you will pay!” the HDP said, addressing government officials.

After the quakes, the AKP government was accused of failing to mobilize enough people for the effort and a lack of coordination among the teams, which resulted in civilians in some regions trying to pull their loved ones from under the rubble themselves.

Social media users also complained about the lack of basic necessities, such as water, blankets and tents as well as medical supplies.

After recent complaints on social media that people in Hatay still have no access to clean drinking water, the Hatay Governor’s Office issued a statement and said drinking water was being delivered to the province regularly by AFAD and that they had a sufficient stock of water.

“The necessary steps are being taken against people who are spreading propaganda on this issue in the media,” the office added.

Source: Stockholmcf