Erdogan visits earthquake-hit south as anger grows over rescue effortAgitated locals complain of slow government response to the rescue and relief effort, even as the situation grows grimmer.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visited southern Turkey on Wednesday to see first-hand the destruction wrought by a massive earthquake as anger grew among local people over what they said was a slow government response to the rescue and relief effort.
The combined confirmed death toll from Monday’s quake, which struck a swathe of southern Turkey and neighbouring Syria, rose to more than 11,000 people.
The tally was expected to rise as hundreds of collapsed buildings in many cities have become tombs for people who had been asleep in their homes when the quake hit in the early morning.
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.
“My wife doesn’t speak Turkish, and I can’t see very well,” said one man, who did not give his name. “We have to check all the faces. We need help.”
Families in southern Turkey and in Syria spent a second night in the freezing cold as overwhelmed rescuers tried to pull people from the rubble.
Many in the Turkish disaster zone had slept in their cars or in the streets under blankets, fearful of going back into buildings shaken by the 7.8 magnitude tremor - Turkey’s deadliest since 1999 - and by a second powerful quake hours later.
“Where are the tents, where are food trucks?” said Melek, 64, in Antakya, saying she had not seen any rescue teams.
“We haven’t seen any food distribution here, unlike previous disasters in our country. We survived the earthquake, but we will die here due to hunger or cold here.”
The death toll rose above 8,500 in Turkey. In Syria, already devastated by 11 years of war, the confirmed toll climbed to more than 2,500 overnight, according to the Syrian government and a rescue service operating in the rebel-held northwest.