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A man-made catastrophe

Feb­ru­ary 12, 2023

Giant earth­quakes, those over 9, very rarely hap­pen… Turkey, on two active fault­lines, is one of those unlucky lands that hap­pen to be struck by major earth­quakes (between 7 and 8) with rel­a­tive­ly long intervals.

But at the same time, if you look at the list of earth­quakes with biggest num­ber of casu­al­ties, 1939 Erz­in­can and 1999 Mar­mara (to be pre­cise 17.08.1999, at 3.04 am, 45 sec­onds that felt like like 45 years) are in the first ten in the world his­to­ry, with thir­ty thou­sand and twen­ty thou­sand casu­al­ties. I am afraid this will be worse that the two.

As a wit­ness of 99 Mar­mara, as a colum­nist who has writ­ten repet­i­tive­ly on the earth­quakes (Mar­mara and Düzce), as an aid vol­un­tary, as a physi­cist who has read many books on the physics of earth­quakes, I think I have the right to say: Most of these lives were lost to politics.

Bet­ter hous­ing poli­cies, more strict con­trol over build­ings, more pow­er to engi­neers and archi­tects could have pre­vent­ed 90 per­cent of the loss­es. But Turkey has added to her “crimes” by also pre­vent­ing swift action of sev­er­al dif­fer­ent organ­i­sa­tions, includ­ing the mil­i­tary, the min­ers, the vol­un­tary aid organ­is­ers etc. in the gov­ern­men­t’s ambi­tion to monop­o­lise and con­trol and make active pro­pa­gan­da. And from 99, we all know that in such major dis­as­ters, a very broad range of res­cue and aid oper­a­tions are need­ed, thou­sands of peo­ple have to col­lab­o­rate to help the millions.

What­ev­er is going on there is a cat­a­stro­phe, to say the least, and it is a man-made catastrophe.

SEE ALSO Turkey • Where did the pre­ven­tion funds go?

Lies! Shameless liess…”

Feb­ru­ary 13, 2023

If some­one is shout­ing at the top of his voice “Lies! Shame­less liess”, he is most like­ly afraid of  truth leek­ing out. As the Pres­i­dent of Turkey start­ed roar­ing once more , with his pros­e­cu­tors work­ing full time, there is far too much tes­ti­mo­ny to be silenced.

Here are some “rumors” (my sources is not social media, but seri­ous reports of pro­fes­sion­als cur­rent­ly in the field).

The actu­al death toll (even up to now) is actu­al­ly much high­er, as Turkey is declar­ing the vic­tims only iden­ti­fied by their fam­i­lies as “offi­cial­ly dead”. Uniden­ti­fied corpses appear in no sta­tis­tics and many peo­ple are buried hasti­ly with­out iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, some in mass graves.

The gov­ern­ment has basi­cal­ly made it impos­si­ble to orga­nize any help with­out the state per­mis­sion. Turk­ish Doc­tors Asso­ci­a­tion is unable to get  per­mis­sion to send doc­tors and health­care per­son­nel, so des­per­ate­ly need­ed. (The head of Turk­ish Doc­tors Asso­ci­a­tion, Şeb­nem Korur Fin­cancı had been  recent­ly arrest­ed, released and sen­tenced.) Hos­pi­tals and hos­pi­tal gar­dens are over­flow­ing with the wound­ed, some in need of ampu­ta­tions, a faster  trans­port of patients to other­ar­eas is in demand.

All aid is monop­o­lised and con­trolled by AFAD, the back­gar­den of Erdoğan and Soy­lu. Aid is not dis­trib­uted prop­er­ly, vol­un­tary groups can not reach those in need. The des­per­ate con­di­tions in which mil­lions are try­ing to sur­vive have caused vio­lent scenes, espe­cial­ly anger turn­ing towards the refugees.

Roads and air­ports are still in a hor­ri­ble con­di­tion. Hatay Air­port strat­ed to func­tion on the 7th day. Res­cue teams only were able to reach the city cen­ters, with delay, but small towns and vil­lages have been most­ly ignored.

In the Mar­mara Earth­quake, the minors and the mil­i­tary were of great help in res­cue oper­a­tions. This time they were not called for in the first days.

If the san­i­tary con­di­tions are not urgent­ly improved, the sur­vivors face severe health prob­lems, includ­ing epidemics.

The report­ed num­bers of 25thousand dam­aged build­ings and 30 thou­sand dead are far below the true, hor­ri­fy­ing num­bers, which may reach hun­dred thousand.

There is report­ing by jour­nal­ists that AFAD con­trols all res­cue oper­a­tions, at the last minute inter­fer­ing and turn­ing into propaganda.

Aslı Erdoğan

Pho­to : Mezpotamya Agency

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