Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in ten provinces in the country in light of the severe earthquake that struck the south of the country and caused great destruction and thousands of casualties.
As of this evening, the official death toll in Turkey and the areas in northern Syria found near the epicenter is more than 5,200 people, but according to UN officials who are coordinating the aid and rescue work, the number is expected to rise by several thousand more as the extent of the destruction caused by the strength of the two severe earthquakes per day becomes clear. Monday (the first at magnitude 7.8 and the second, a few hours later, was recorded at a similar level).
Erdogan's announcement will officially turn these areas into disaster preparedness zones, so they will be under a state of emergency for at least three months.
This means that the government, and in fact Erdogan himself, will be able to act as he sees fit without the need for the approval of the parliament, and it may also be used for political purposes to silence criticism and protest as the May presidential elections approach.
Among the measures that Erdogan intends to implement is housing survivors temporarily in hotels in the Antalya region.
A fire broke out at the port in Turkey following the earthquake that struck the area in February 2022, Photo: Fire burns containers at the port in the earthquake-stricken town of Iskenderun, southern Turkey, Tuesday, Feb.
7, 2023. A powerful earthquake hit southeast Turkey and Syria early Monday, toppling hundreds of buildings and killing and injuring thousands of people.
(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
A particularly shocking case occurred in the port city of Iskanderon, where a small hospital collapsed and a race against the clock is underway to find survivors.
One of the doctors at the site, of whom almost no trace remains, told Reuters: "There are corpses there, and I'm used to seeing corpses, but it's very difficult."
According to estimates, about 15 people remained in the ruins, including the sick.
"Nobody can get close to the place," said a local taxi driver, explaining that the only thing separating it from complete collapse is one pillar.
Because of the earthquake, a huge fire broke out in the port of the city and hundreds of tankers went up in flames.
As a result, many vessels had to deviate from their course.
At the same time, residents in several cities in the country continue to make harsh accusations against the authorities for running out of resources and for the slowness of the response.
"There is no one here, we are here under the snowy sky and we have no home, destitute," said Mort Alinak, whose house was destroyed and some of his relatives are still missing.
"Where shall I go?"
he asked rhetorically.
At least 380,000 people left without a roof are now in evacuation complexes set up by the government, and many more are huddled in shopping malls, mosques or community centers.
Following the collapse of thousands of buildings, including hospitals and schools, tens of thousands were left homeless.
And if that wasn't enough, the storm "Barbara" led to freezing temperatures and strong wind gusts.
The situation in Syria, according to aid officials, is even more difficult, in light of the continuation of the civil war.
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