Antakya gets angry because of the earthquake response

For many families in southeastern Turkey, the wait is to find out if their loved ones are still alive.

A week after two earthquakes struck Turkey, causing widespread devastation in it and neighboring Syria, thousands of rescue teams are still searching for signs of life through the rubble of former apartment blocks.

Umut Senoglu is a software developer in Antakya, Turkey. He told Euronews that many of his relatives are still trapped under the rubble, including his sister, nieces and nephews and brother-in-law.

“Maybe 20 bodies were found yesterday,” he said, describing the grueling search and rescue operations in Antakya.

“The last successful rescue was two days ago. Since then, we have only recovered the dead. It’s hard … sometimes we cry. Sometimes we just wait.”

The death toll in Turkey and Syria exceeds 33,000

The 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes on February 6 were the worst natural disaster to hit Turkey in nearly a century.

The subsequent death toll in northern Syria and southeastern Turkey has since exceeded 33,000. That figure is expected to rise as search teams find more bodies.

Antakya, the capital of Hatay Province, was one of the hardest hit by the quakes. And bulldozers prepared a large cemetery on the outskirts of the city. Hundreds of graves are now marked with simple wooden planks.

Without electricity, water, or toilets, those who have survived are at greater risk, as a cholera outbreak is spreading rapidly, and post-shunts are an ongoing problem, hampering rescue efforts.

AP photo

Pictures recovered from the rubble of buildings destroyed during the earthquake are placed in the windshield of a car in Antakya. – AP Photo

A chaotic response to the disaster

After seven days of waiting, shock and disbelief are slowly giving way to what many describe as a chaotic response to the disaster.

“Private companies sent their cranes and excavators here. But when they came, they didn’t know what to do… they were just technical operators. They can use cranes, but they are not experts in rescue operations ,” Umut said.

In the chaos, family members are begging operators to go to separate buildings to save their loved ones.

Rescue teams have been delayed by the widespread damage, making it more difficult for them to respond quickly.

The country’s opposition has criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the earthquake, arguing that he failed to prepare his country for the inevitable disaster.

In response, the government says there is no way they could have prepared for a disaster of this magnitude.

Leave a comment