Turkey earthquake survivors sleeping in ‘plastic bags’ and lack water, bread and electricity

Turkey earthquake survivors sleeping in ‘plastic bags’ and lack water, bread and electricity

Updated: 1 month, 16 days, 8 hours, 5 minutes, 21 seconds ago

A survivor of an earthquake in Turkey which has killed tens of thousands of people said those who have managed to escape or were rescued are sleeping in tents made from “plastic bags” and have “no water, bread or electricity”.

Ibrahim*, 39, from Gaziantep in Turkey, said he was awake in his apartment when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck early last Monday, before it was followed by another powerful tremor.

He recalled how he was swung from “left to right” as he sought to rescue his ill mother from her bedroom.

The electricity was cut off and “everyone was screaming and crying” as his building shook, he recalled in an interview for i.

People ran out and took refuge in a nearby park which swelled with survivors who were forced to camp out in snow, rain and sub-zero temperatures.

Some survivors of the earthquake in Turkey are being made to sleep in makeshift tents (Photo: supplied)

“We did not have the chance to take any clothing outside with us, it was too dangerous,” he said.

“A lot of children were crying we were all in a miserable state. I do not want anyone else experiencing this horror.”

The death toll from the earthquake has hit more than 37,000, with more than 31,600 recorded in Turkey and more than 5,700 in the bordering north-west region of Syria.

Ibrahim has joined a choir of voices criticising the Turkish government’s response, which he branded “very sad and disturbing”.

“The government has not built any tents for us we have done it ourselves,” he added.

“I am talking about tents made from plastic bags. We still fear the earthquake and are afraid to go back in.”

The government’s response to the tragedy which has killed more than 37,000 in Syria and Turkey has been ‘disturbing’, said one survivor (Photo: submitted)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who faces an election in June, acknowledged last week there had been some logistical issues during the first day of the rescue operation but said things had been brought “under control” thereafter.

Ibrahim said had the response been better “a lot more lives could’ve been saved”, including his friend who perished in the disaster.

He said he expected the police and army to be deployed within an hour of the calamity but that did not happen.

Three days after the quake hit there was still a lack of heavy machines to pull people from collapsed buildings, Ibrahim said.

“Those who survived being stuck underneath the rubble, died because of hunger and the freezing weather conditions,” he added.

KAHRAMANMARAS, TURKIYE - FEBRUARY 08: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to press at the tent city set up by Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) of Turkiye after arriving 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hit Kahramanmaras, Turkiye on February 08, 2023. Early Monday morning, a strong 7.7 earthquake, centered in the Pazarcik district, jolted Kahramanmaras and strongly shook several provinces, including Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Adana, Adiyaman, Malatya, Osmaniye, Hatay, and Kilis. Later, at 13.24 p.m. (1024GMT), a 7.6 magnitude quake centered in Kahramanmaras' Elbistan district struck the region. Turkiye declared 7 days of national mourning after deadly earthquakes in southern provinces. (Photo by Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said people who have been left homeless by the earthquake would have a new home within a year (Photo: Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

During a visit to the disaster zone last week, Mr Erdogan pledged all those who have been left homeless by the earthquake would be given a new home within a year.

But Ibrahim doesn’t believe that will happen, saying a friend who enquired about it was simply told his building would not be rebuilt.

“The government always talks, they say that they will do something, but they do nothing,” he said.

Dozens of residents and overwhelmed first responders who spoke to Reuters expressed bewilderment at a lack of water, food, medicine, body bags and cranes in the disaster zone in the first days after the quake, with many criticising what they said was a slow and centralised response by Turkey’s disaster and emergency management authority (Afad).

Said Qudsi travelled from Istanbul to Kahramanmaras, close to the epicentre of the earthquake, to bury his uncle, aunt and their two sons. Their two daughters are still missing.

“People are not dead because of the earthquake, they are dead because of precautions that weren’t taken earlier,” he said.

Despite hope of still finding people under the rubble alive, some rescue efforts are continuing.

In Kahramanmaras, rescuers said they had contact with a grandmother, mother and baby trapped in a room in the remains of a three-storey building.

Rescuers were digging a second tunnel to reach them, after a first route was blocked, and a human chain was formed to carry out the rubble in buckets.

“I have a very strong feeling we are going to get them,” said Burcu Baldauf, head of the Turkish voluntary healthcare team.

“It’s already a miracle. After seven days, they are there with no water, no food and in good condition.”

i has contacted the Turkish president’s office for comment.

*Name changed to protect identity