Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan acknowledged on Wednesday that his government had exhibited some failures in responding to Sunday’s earthquake in the eastern province of Van on the first day of the disaster but criticized the media for accusing the government of being late in reaching out to quake victims.
“I admit that we failed in the beginning within the first 24 hours. But this is normal. This happens all around the world,” Erdoğan said during a meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) on Wednesday. But he said the situation is now almost completely under control.
“News agencies and television channels are distorting many things. There is no point in deceiving the public. I am telling you what has been done. TL 3 million was initially sent to the region. This amount has increased to TL 10 million today. The whole country has been united after the quake,” he said.
He added that the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) had sent 17,836 tents to the disaster region, which he said was more than enough for victims, but could not be distributed equally due to a lack of coordination. Erdoğan said 60 prefabricated homes and 66,760 blankets had been sent to the disaster zone.
“There are unfortunately some circles who are trying to use such situations for political gain. This is ugly. There is a state and a government that has been mobilized during such this disaster. The state is there with all its institutions. Those who experienced the 1999 earthquake [in western Turkey] know that was a government that failed to go to the earthquake zone. But now almost one-fourth of the Cabinet is there. They are planning what needs to be done and what will be done,” Erdoğan said.
He also said shoddy construction has contributed to the high death toll. The prime minister added that Turkey has not learned enough from past earthquakes of the danger of poorly constructed buildings. He also compared the actions of irresponsible construction companies to murder.
The prime minister also said the death toll now stands at 471. He said of the 461 victims, 63 were teachers. Having started out saying Turkey could handle the disaster alone, Erdoğan’s government put out requests on Tuesday to 30 countries, including Israel, for emergency materials, including prefabricated housing, tents and containers.
26 October 2011, Wednesday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,