Survivors of eastern Turkey's earthquake pleaded for more
tents on Thursday, fearing death from cold after a tremor that killed at least
523 and left thousands sleeping in the open.
Some blamed the ruling AK party for a slow response and
accused officials of handing aid to supporters, after standing in long queues
only to be told there were no tents left. Others said profiteers were hoarding
tents and reselling them.
"Everyone is getting sick and wet. We have been waiting
in line for four days like this and still nothing. It gets to our turn and they
say they have run out," said Fetih Zengin, 38, an estate agent whose house
was badly damaged in Ercis, a town of 100,000 that was hardest hit by Sunday's
7.2 magnitude quake.
"We slept under a piece of plastic erected on some wood
boards we found. We have 10 children in our family, they are getting sick.
Everyone needs a tent, snow is coming. It's a disaster."
Ergun Ozmen, 37, was carrying loaves of bread after queuing
"People are taking 10 tents and selling them. It's a
disgrace. I slept in the municipal park all night in the rain. My shoes are
filled with water. I only registered to get a tent this morning as I have been
busy burying the dead," he said.
The death toll rose to 523, with 1,650 injured in the
biggest quake in more than a decade in Turkey. The Disaster and Emergency
Administration said 185 people had been rescued alive from collapsed buildings
since the quake.
Searches for survivors went on at some sites but at others
rescuers stopped work. The bodies of a mother and her baby were pulled out from
one building during the night, witnesses said. Several countries have answered
Turkey's call for help to supply tents, prefabricated housing and containers.
Turkish media said prefabricated homes sent by Israel,
despite poor relations between the two countries, were being transported to Van
In central Ercis, long lines of people queued for tents in
mud and cold rain. Snow fell overnight in the mountains and many said they
feared the onslaught of winter. Occasional scuffles broke out.
Exhausted relatives clung to the hope that loved ones would
be found, keeping vigil at the site of their destroyed homes as searches went
on for any sign of life.
Overnight, groups of shell-shocked people roamed aimlessly,
with no home to go to, huddling around fires as temperatures dropped to
freezing. Others congregated in relief camps.
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