Erdogan acknowledges earthquake relief problems as death toll passes 12,000
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday (8 February) admitted there were problems with his government’s initial response to a devastating earthquake in southern Turkey, amid anger from those left destitute and frustrated over the slow arrival of rescue teams.
Across a swathe of southern Turkey, people sought temporary shelter and food in freezing winter weather, and waited in anguish by piles of rubble where family and friends might still lie buried.
There were similar scenes and complaints in neighbouring Syria, whose north was hard hit by Monday’s huge quake.
In Brussels, the EU is planning a donor conference in March to mobilise international aid for Syria and Turkey.
“We are now racing against the clock to save lives together,” said EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Twitter.
“No one should be left alone when a tragedy like this hits a people,” von der Leyen said.
Death toll sure to raise
The death toll from both countries was expected to rise as hundreds of collapsed buildings in many cities have become tombs for people who had been asleep when the quake hit.
In the Turkish city of Antakya, dozens of bodies, some covered in blankets and sheets and others in body bags, were lined up on the ground outside a hospital.
More than 298,000 people have been made homeless and 180 shelters for the displaced had been opened, Syrian state media reported, apparently referring to areas under government control, and not held by opposition factions.
Erdoğan, who declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces and sent troops to help, arrived in Kahramanmaras to view the damage and see the rescue and relief effort.