Turkey earthquake: Erdogan asks 'pardon' for delays in relief
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised the construction of nearly 50,000 homes in Adiyaman province. (File Photo)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday asked “forgiveness” from residents of Adiyaman province, one of the hardest hit by the devastating earthquake of February 6, for delays in the arrival of help.
“Due to the devastating effect of the tremors and bad weather, we were not able to work the way we wanted in Adiyaman for the first few days. I apologize for this.
— Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Head of the Turkish State
Mr. Erdogan was speaking from the city of Adiyaman, three weeks after an earthquake that killed more than 44,000 people in Turkey and also affected neighboring Syria.
The Turkish president, in power for twenty years and who wishes to remain in office during the elections scheduled for May 14, has come under strong criticism from survivors who blame the state for the slowness of relief.
Four days after the disaster, Mr. Erdogan had sketched out a form of mea culpa, already in Adiyaman, without however asking for forgiveness.
The destructions have affected so many buildings […] that, unfortunately, we were not able to conduct our interventions as quickly as hoped, he said at the time.
He also acknowledged shortcomings in the response to the earthquake, adding that it is impossible to be prepared for such a disaster.
In this province and that of& #x27;Hatay, also very affected, survivors expressed their anger to AFP a few days after the natural disaster.
One of them, Mehmet Yildirim, said on February 10 that he had seen no one, no state, no police, no soldiers before 2 p.m., the second day of the earthquake. , 34 hours after the first quake.
He accused the authorities of leaving the population to fend for themselves in Adiyaman province.
This weekend, football fans from Istanbul clubs also shouted their displeasure in the stadiums, calling for the resignation of the government.
On Monday, the Turkish president promised the construction of nearly 50,000 new homes in this province of Adiyaman out of a total of 309,000 that must be built in the eleven provinces affected by the earthquake.
The earthquake measuring 7.8 on the open Richter scale and its many aftershocks that have rocked southern Turkey since February 6 have caused damage exceeding $34 billion, the World Bank (WB) estimated on Monday.
This sum is the equivalent of 4% of the country's GDP in 2021, specifies the institution, which also adds that the estimate does not take into account the reconstruction costs, potentially twice as high. according to the statement nor the consequences on future Turkish growth.
The WB recalls that the aftershocks which continue to be recorded risk increasing the total amount of damage caused by the disaster. It also does not take into account the damage caused in northern Syria, also particularly affected by the earthquakes.
The latest occurred overnight from Sunday to Monday in Malatya province, resulting in one person being killed and dozens injured.
“This disaster reminds us that Turkey is located in an area of high seismic activity and that there is a need to strengthen the resilience of both private and public infrastructure. The World Bank is committed to supporting Turkish efforts in this direction. »
— Humberto Lopez, director of the WB in the country
The institution also specifies that the estimates concerning the last aftershocks are still in progress.
Some 10,000 aftershocks have occurred since February 6 in Turkey, according to Turkey's state disaster management agency (AFAD).
In total, the recent earthquakes have killed more than 44,000 people in the south and southeast of the country, according to the latest official report.
The February 6 earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.8, destroyed or severely damaged more than 170,000 buildings in eleven provinces of the country and also affected northern neighboring Syria .
The affected Turkish provinces, among the poorest in the country, also hosted more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees, the WB said.