Thu, 30 March 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

Turkey quake: 'People were killed under state supervision'

Update : 16 Feb 2023, 20:40

As the dust begins to settle in Turkey, questions are being asked about construction scams and the politics that allowed unsafe structures to be built.

In southeastern Turkey, despair is turning into righteous indignation. On February 6, an area roughly the size of mainland Portugal was struck by two powerful earthquakes. The first, at 4:17 a.m. local time (0117 GMT), measured 7.8 on the Richter scale; the second, just nine hours later, measured 7.6.

The earthquake, which also hit northern Syria, claimed more than 35,000 lives in Turkey and 6,000 in Syria. Those numbers have been rising by the hour.

According to Turkish authorities, nearly 13 million people in 10 cities have been affected, and at least 33,143 buildings have either collapsed, been severely damaged or require immediate demolition. The number is likely to rise as officials continue to assess the damage.

An estimated 1 million people are currently without shelter. Most of them are living in tents or student dormitories.

Now, as the public's initial shock wears off and the dust settles, the sheer scale of the devastation is becoming even more apparent. And with that also comes the question of who is to blame. 

"Destiny's plan includes such things," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told an earthquake victim during his brief visit to the region, 56 hours after the disaster.

In response, many locals asked on social media, "Why doesn't destiny ever visit Japan?"

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay pointed the finger at 134 builders from the region who have been arrested across the country on suspicion of shoddy or negligent construction. Some were arrested at airports as they attempted to flee the country with large sums of cash.

The Ministry of Justice sent a letter to prosecutors to establish "Earthquake Crime Investigation Offices."

But the recent history of earthquake investigations in Turkey raises the question of whether senior officials, who were allegedly negligent in the inspection and approval processes, will actually be punished. That has not been the case in the past.

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