Two and a half weeks after the earthquake disaster in the Turkish-Syrian border area, the number of dead has risen to more than 50,000. In Turkey alone, the number is 44,218, according to the Turkish disaster agency Afad. 5,900 deaths were recently reported from Syria.
Aftershocks continue to shake the region, often causing panic among local residents. According to the Turkish government, 20 million people in the country are affected by the earthquake. The United Nations assumes that 8.8 million people will be affected in Syria.
The areas affected by the earthquake were initially difficult to access, but salvage work is being continued, and the number of victims is increasing as it progresses. There have been no more reports of the rescue of survivors in the past few days.
Turkish architects attest government complicity
The Turkish Chamber of Architects TMMOB has attested that the government is largely to blame for the magnitude of the earthquake disaster. According to a report by the chamber, the government had put the lives of many people at risk by subsequently legalizing thousands of unauthorized buildings.
Almost half of the buildings in the region affected by the earthquake were built after 2001 - a time when strict building regulations for earthquake safety were already in force. Nevertheless, half of the collapsed or badly damaged buildings are from this period. Construction supervision has been transferred to the private sector, which means that the state has neglected its responsibility for the general public.
The report also criticized again that no help had reached many places for days. The crisis response revealed that the state was massively unprepared. Governors appointed by the government would also have created a chaos of competences and slowed down decisions.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and government officials had rejected such criticism. Erdogan had admitted that there had been problems in the first few days. For example, the government justified bottlenecks in the supply of the crisis regions with the size of the affected area and the severity of the disaster.
More than 9000 aftershocks
The series of earthquakes began on February 6, when two earthquakes measuring 7.7 and a little later measuring 7.6 shook southeastern Turkey and northern Syria. This was followed by more than 9,000 aftershocks, according to Turkish sources.
According to the United Nations, the earthquake disaster was not only the worst in Turkish history in terms of fatalities. The mountains of rubble are also unprecedented, said Louisa Vinton, the representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Turkey. According to the Turkish government, more than 173,000 buildings have been registered as having collapsed or been badly damaged.
In Turkey, eleven provinces are affected by the earthquake, in Syria the north-west. There is only sparse information about the situation from the civil war country. In the face of years of bombardment and fighting, many people there were already living in precarious conditions before the tremors.