Families huddled in the chilly rain, attaching tarps to make makeshift tents, sleeping on pieces of furniture salvaged from the rubble, and lining up for shoes, blankets, or anything else that might be available two days after a devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake killed more than 15,000 people in Turkey and Syria.
Many people were irate because it was taking so long for rescue teams with large equipment to show up. In Kahramanmaras, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on Wednesday, three dead were found among a six-story structure, and there were at least six more casualties in the wreckage. A family member of two of the victims stated, “The volunteers were here, but not the state.”
A fire station in Pazarcik was converted into a temporary funeral home after buildings collapsed across streets around southern Turkey, making them impassable. Buildings that were still standing had gaps in their walls that could be reached through. The survivors, many of whom are still wearing the sleeping clothing they were wearing when the earthquake struck two days ago, are in danger of having their feet hacked by the glass that litters the ground.
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Early on Thursday, the state-run Andalou News Agency announced that Turkey’s death toll has surpassed 12,000 as confirmed by the country’s disaster management agency. According to the organization, known by its Turkish initials AFAD, 12,391 people have perished and 62,914 have been injured.
In his first trip to the disaster area, Mr. Erdogan, Turkey’s most powerful leader for the past 20 years, told his people how much his government had already done to assist while pleading with them to “show patient” until more supplies arrived. A plea for unity was nevertheless rebuffed by the head of the biggest opposition party in the nation, who claimed that Mr. Erdogan was “totally responsible.”
Attempts to deliver relief to Syria are made more difficult by its more than ten-year civil war. While aid was not entering Syria, bodies were, and many refugees who had been displaced by the conflict now reside in the region of Turkey that was hit by the earthquake.
Due to the humanitarian catastrophe, Turks from all over the world have banded together to organize fundraising efforts and collect items to take home. From a baking sale in London to the collection of donations at a nursing home in Berlin, they made an attempt.
According to Mr. Erdogan, rescue efforts in Turkey would concentrate on some of the hardest-hit provinces, including Karamanmaras, Adiyaman, and Hatay. According to the state Health Ministry and the aid organization White Helmets, at least 3,042 people died in Syria as a result of the earthquake. The country had already experienced a humanitarian crisis due to more than a decade of civil war.