Members of the Turkish government and representatives from the political parties have rushed to Van in the aftermath of an earthquake that hit the province at around noon on Sunday.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan arrived in Van last night and proceeded directly to Erciş, a town in the province of Van where the damage caused by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake was most severe. Erdoğan, together with Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, Minister of Interior İdris Naim Şahin, Minister of Transport and Communications Binali Yıldırım, Minister of Education Ömer Dinçer, Minister of Health Recep Akdağ and Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik, visited the site of the earthquake, directing the rescue teams working on the areas hit by the temblor.
Erdoğan, upon completing his survey of Erciş, continued on to the city of Van, the center of the province, by helicopter, where he was briefed by officials at the Disaster Coordination Center about the damage caused by the quake, aid activities and what was being done to save those who were still alive under the debris of the collapsed buildings. Erdoğan, noting that members of Civil Defense, of Disaster and Emergency Management Agency and of Search and Rescue Association (AKUT) were also working at the quake site, said: “We will certainly not leave our citizens on their own. Tents where our citizens can take shelter and have their meals have been provided.”
Reaffirming that the citizens would not be left on their own, Erdoğan said: “We have several alternatives such as prefabricated houses, cold weather tents and containers. … Our friends have been working on all these alternatives. In some places tent cities and, in places where the area is suitable, prefabricated houses are going to be built to provide accommodation for our citizens. We have already taken, or are about to take all the measures we can to comfort all the people hit by the disaster.”
Representatives of some parties also went to the region on Monday. Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who had gone to the region along with Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin, said: “This is a very serious disaster. The state is doing its best to heal the wounds.” He also added that being a country that is prone to earthquakes, all these occurrences offer some valuable lessons to which special attention needs to be paid. Kılıçdaroğlu also said that Turkey was strong enough to heal its wounds on its own.
24 October 2011, Monday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, ANKARA