News / Europe

Turkey Accepts Offers of Earthquake Aid

Rescue workers work to save people trapped under debris after an earthquake in Ercis, near the eastern Turkish city of Van, October 25, 2011.
Rescue workers work to save people trapped under debris after an earthquake in Ercis, near the eastern Turkish city of Van, October 25, 2011.
Dorian Jones

After a third night of freezing conditions in southeastern Turkey, hope of finding more survivors from Sunday's powerful earthquake is beginning to fade. But with winter approaching and thousands of people homeless, fear is growing of a greater crisis facing the area.

Two more people have been found alive by rescue workers in their collapsed homes. A teacher and a young student were pulled out of the rubble on Wednesday. The student was found by rescuers using sophisticated micro-cameras that penetrated deep into the collapsed building.

But with powerful aftershocks continuing and sub-freezing temperatures falling on the region for a fourth night, hopes of finding more survivors are fading. The hard decision to turn search-and-rescue into a clearance operation is now looming, and the risk of disease is growing. There are already reports of outbreaks of diarrhea among children.

Video clip: Turkey earthquake rescue

The government has now accepted offers of help from 30 countries around the world, including Israel. Relations between Israel and Turkey have been strained since Israeli commandos raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last year, killing nine Turkish activists.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul welcomed the help. He says nearly 50 presidents called with offers of help and that the Foreign Ministry will reach out as soon as it is determined there is a need. President Gul says Turkey did not initially make a call for the international community's help but later reversed its decision.

Criticism has been steadily growing over the government's rejection of most international help. Turkey had initially accepted offers of help only from Iran and Azerbaijan, which border the quake-stricken region. Following the quake, Ankara had at first said it was capable of dealing with the crisis on its own.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly attacked those who criticized his government's handling of the situation. He says the earthquake in and around the city of Van is a litmus test and that critics of his government are provoking the region's people. He says the critics do not care about the dead, those trapped under the rubble, or the collapsed houses. Mr. Erdogan says they are only trying to profit from the situation.

Analysts say the reason behind Ankara's eventual decision to accept aid is the growing concern that the region could be facing an even bigger crisis.

The 7.2 magnitude quake destroyed thousands of apartment blocks and leveled numerous villages where the houses are made of clay and mud. With winter fast approaching, authorities are under increasing pressure to provide for those who have lost their homes.

While tent cities and field kitchens have been built in several towns and cities, officials have admitted they underestimated the need for tents. Observers say there is now a growing awareness on the part of the government that it is a race against time to accommodate the thousands of homeless before winter sets in.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs