Monday, October 24, 2011

Turkey Devastated by a 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake

Rescuers continue digging with heavy machinery, as well as their bare hands, in the villages of Van and Ercis Monday morning as Turkey gets hit by a massive earthquake that has left more than 270 individuals dead and 40,000 homeless.

The 7.2 magnitude quake, which struck on Sunday morning, had the most severe effect in Ercis, a town of around 75,000 people.

"It is a very urgent situation," Hakki Erskoy, a disaster manager for the Turkish Red Crescent, told the Guardian. He said his organisation was dealing with 40,000 homeless people, adding: "Right now, we are facing a race against time to provide shelter for people."

Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan - who toured the devastated region by helicopter - told reporters that the buildings in the area are made of mud brick, and are therefore more prone to earthquakes.

Although 24 individuals were rescued from the rubble within the first two hours of the quake, many of still missing including many university students in Ercis.

"University students are said to be living here," Mustafa Bilgin, a mine rescue expert, said. "We don't know how many of them are still inside – we've reached their computers, clothing but we did not see anyone."

A number of countries have offered assistance with both relief aid and search and rescue efforts. This immediate reaction is appreciated by the people of Turkey, and shows how government assistance can change when a natural disaster occurs. This response can be viewed in Jennifer Hyndman's new book Dual Disasters when she describes what happens when “man-made” and “natural” disasters meet.

As of yet, there have been no talks about civil wars breaking out since the quake, as those fight for their safety, homes, loved ones and own lives.

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