Desperation and anger continue to rise as search and rescue efforts for the survivors of the powerful earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday become more challenging by the minute. With the death toll surpassing 36,000, frustration over the delayed response by Turkish authorities and difficult conditions that hinder rescue efforts have reached a boiling point.
President Tayyip Erdogan declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces, however, residents in several damaged cities expressed their anger and despair over the inadequate response from authorities to the deadliest earthquake in decades. In remote towns in southern Turkey, relief efforts have been stretched to the limit, with the destruction spanning over a border region almost 650 miles long.
Frustration Over Delayed Response by Turkish Authorities
In the city of Gaziantep, no rescue teams arrived in the first 12 hours after the disaster, forcing victims’ relatives and local police to clear the ruins by hand. When the rescuers finally arrived on Monday evening, they only worked for a few hours before breaking for the night. Many Turks expressed their anger online over what they described as a negligent emergency response in the southern-most province of Hatay, with many complaining that rescue efforts failed to reach the area.
Volunteers have had to step in as rescuers fall short, “We go to places to help people who were originally supposed to be rescued by the Red Crescent, but where no help comes,” says Ceren Soylu, a member of a volunteer group set up by the right-wing opposition Iyi Party.
Harsh Conditions Hamper Rescue Efforts
Coordinator Murat Harun Öngören of AKUT, Turkey’s largest civil society aid and rescue organization, states that efforts to reach those affected across southern Turkey have been severely impeded by the cold weather and icy conditions, as well as the sheer size of the affected area. “We often define major earthquakes as disasters. This is more than an earthquake, this is a disaster,” he says. Öngören also added that the true number of collapsed buildings is likely to greatly exceed the confirmed tally so far.
Concerns for Syria Amid Existing Humanitarian Crisis
Aid officials expressed particular concern about the situation in Syria, which is already struggling with a humanitarian crisis after nearly 12 years of civil war. As the search for survivors continues, the death toll is expected to rise, and the desperate race against time to save lives becomes more pressing.
In this disaster that is more than just an earthquake, the desperate search for survivors continues amidst the chaos and frustration. The citizens of Turkey and Syria are in dire need of help and support as they navigate through the aftermath of this catastrophic event.