Erdogan asks forgiveness for slow start of earthquake rescue work

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Turkish President Erdogan last week with rescuers in Hatay province
NOS News

Turkish President Erdogan has apologized for the slow start of rescue work after the strong earthquakes three weeks ago. During a visit to the stricken city of Adiyaman, he asked residents of Turkey for forgiveness this afternoon. “Like any mortal, we are not alien to faults, defects and imperfections,” he said.

Erdogan blames the delay in the rescue work on, among other things, the cold weather conditions and the infrastructure severely damaged by the earthquake. At the same time, he emphasized in Adiyaman that the aid got off to a good start after a few days. “No one should doubt that we are doing whatever it takes.”

The severe quakes and aftershocks in early February killed at least 50,000 people and collapsed many tens of thousands of buildings. Dissatisfaction quickly arose in Turkey about the way in which the government responded to the natural disaster. According to some of the Turks, the relief efforts started much too slowly and rescue teams had too few equipment and personnel.

Opposition parties are critical of Erdogan’s request for forgiveness, whose leadership is at stake in May’s presidential elections. For example, the pro-Kurdish party HDP calls on Turks not to accept the president’s apology.

Protest in football stadiums

Yesterday, criticism of Erdogan’s government swelled again in Istanbul. For example, supporters of the football clubs Fenerbahçe and Besiktas called on the government to leave. “Twenty years of lying and cheating, step up,” shouted Fenerbahçe fans from the stands.

Supporters of Besiktas, who are more likely to support the opposition in Turkey, threw hundreds of hugs on the pitch. With this they wanted to draw attention to the many children who died in the earthquakes.

Watch images of the ‘hug protest’ below:

Another earthquake hit part of the affected area in Turkey this morning. According to Turkish authorities, it killed at least one person and injured more than 110 people. Several dozen buildings also collapsed due to the earthquake.

The quake had a magnitude of 5.2, says the European Seismological Center (EMSC). It is not the first time after the earthquakes three weeks ago that the disaster area has been hit by aftershocks and new quakes. The most powerful was a week ago near the southern city of Antakya.

The epicenter of this morning’s quake was just south of the city of Malatya in the province of the same name:

Malatya was also hit hard by two major earthquakes in early February. The Turkish rescue service AFAD expects many aftershocks in the near future. “It is very unusual activity,” said AFAD director Orhan Tatar about the quakes. According to him, more than 10,000 aftershocks have been felt in recent weeks, Turkish media report.

  • Border region between Turkey and Syria again hit by powerful quake
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  • Criticism of government after earthquake, what consequences does that have for Erdogan?
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