Since 1999 and Imzit earthquake, measuring 7.6, Turkey has not experienced such a catastrophe. However, in this seismic area formed by the meeting of several tectonic plates, earthquakes are quite usual and the population is well-prepared to them. Unfortunately, building security norms are too less followed, hence the significant damages.
The quake, measuring 7.2, hit the eastern part of Turkey on Sunday. It devastated Van’s area, and the death and material tolls don’t stop rising. Already 459 people are reported dead, 1.350 injured. And it is still impossible to measure how many are missing.
“Hundreds, maybe thousands of people are still trapped under rubble” declared yesterday an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesman in Geneva, Jessica Sallabank. The Head of Kandilli’s seismologic Institute also announced that the quake may provoke between 500 and 1.000 dead people.
It is also impossible to measure the number of homeless people, in dire need of shelter, with temperatures plummeting to near zero and snow forecast to fall soon. The survivors’ situation is getting more and more complicated. This is all the more true than Turkish rescue teams seem to be overwhelmed by the catastrophe. First declaring that everything was under control, the Turkish government finally accepted foreign countries’ help, among which China and Israel.
Rescuers still focus on looking for living people covered with rubble in cities, like Van and its million inhabitants. Some remote villages may not be rescued yet. If the Turkish Red Crescent dealt about 13.000 tents and prepared a shelter to almost 40.000 people, this may be insufficient, in particular out of town. “We received 25 for 150 houses” complained Amik’s head, a village in ruins, near to Van. New tents were promised to arrive yesterday by the vice-Prime minister.
This violent earthquake proves once again, that in emergency situations and against natural disasters, only teams coordination and gathering means may help saving lives.
Creating Red Helmets, international and humanitarian force, able to act at anytime, under the aegis of the UN, take on meaning, considering the Turkish disaster. Indeed, last days events would have brought into light the high necessity to improve cooperation among NGO’s and governmental organizations, from all over the world. This is compulsory to back up local authorities efforts. As Nicole Guedj has underlined it since 1997, this solidarity can only be efficient in a well-organized and coordinating system.
At any rate, the Red Helmets Foundation holds to express her full support to rescue teams operating in Turkey, and has a particular thought towards victims’ families.