Turkish President Erdogan has apologized for the slow start of rescue work after strong earthquakes three weeks ago. During his visit to the afflicted city of Adiyaman, he asked the people of Turkey for forgiveness this afternoon. “Like any human beings, we are no strangers to flaws, flaws and imperfections,” he said.
Erdogan blames the delay in the rescue work, among other things, on cold weather conditions and infrastructure that was badly damaged by the quake. At the same time, he confirmed in Adiyaman that the aid is off to a good start after a few days. “No one should doubt that we are doing whatever it takes.”
Severe earthquakes and aftershocks in early February killed at least 50,000 people and collapsed tens of thousands of buildings. Discontent soon arose in Turkey over the way the government had responded to the natural disaster. According to some Turks, the relief effort started very slowly and the rescue teams had very few equipment and personnel.
Erdogan’s pardon request has been criticized by opposition parties, whose leadership is at risk in the presidential elections in May. For example, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party calls on the Turks not to accept the president’s apology.
Protest in football stadiums
Yesterday, criticism of Erdogan’s government amplified again in Istanbul. For example, supporters of football clubs Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş called on the government to leave. Fenerbahçe fans shouted from the stands “Twenty years of lying and cheating, step up”.
Besiktas supporters, who are most likely to support the opposition in Turkey, threw hundreds of hugs onto the pitch. By this they wanted to draw attention to the many children who died in earthquakes.
See photos of the “hug protest” below:
Another earthquake hit part of the affected area in Turkey this morning. According to the Turkish authorities, it killed at least one person and injured more than 110 people. Dozens of buildings also collapsed due to the quake.
The magnitude of the quake was 5.2, according to the European Seismological Center (EMSC). This is not the first time after the earthquakes three weeks ago that the disaster area has been hit by new aftershocks and quakes. The strongest of them was a week ago near the southern city of Antakya.
The epicenter of the earthquake that occurred this morning was south of the city of Malatya in the province of the same name:
Malatya was also badly hit by two major earthquakes in early February. The Turkish rescue service AFAD expects several aftershocks in the near future. “It’s a very unusual activity,” Orhan Teter, director of the Disaster and Emergency Management Department, said of the earthquakes. According to him, more than 10,000 aftershocks have been felt in recent weeks, Turkish media reported.
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