Turkey earthquake: Bodies in street after quake as anger grows over aid


Bodies of people killed in the earthquake in southern Turkey on Monday are being left out on the street as the hunt continues for survivors.

More than 5,000 people are known to have died in Turkey and northern Syria, which was also devastated by the quake.

The United Nations warned that thousands of children may be among the dead.

Monday’s 7.8 magnitude quake struck at 04:17 (01:17 GMT) near the city of Gaziantep.

A later tremor was nearly as big, with its epicentre in the Elbistan district of Kahramanmaras province.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a three-month state of emergency in the 10 provinces worst affected by the earthquake.

He said the measures would allow relief workers and financial aid into the affected regions but did not give further details.

Around 70 countries are sending aid to Turkey, but there is growing anger in some places that help is not arriving fast enough.

In the city of Antakya, some of the dead were left laid out on the pavement for hours as rescue workers and ambulances struggled to cope with the scale of the disaster.

Family members of those missing combed through the rubble looking for their loved ones. A group of men using sledgehammers and other tools found the bodies of a man and a young girl who were trapped. They called to official rescuers to use their power tools to help, but they said they had to concentrate on the living.

The men kept digging until the bodies were freed.

There is growing anger that there isn’t enough help. One woman told the BBC that rescuers came and took pictures of the building belonging to her boyfriend’s family where they believed 11 people were trapped, but they didn’t return.

She said they heard voices for hours, but then there was silence.

Further north in Kahramanmaras, close to the epicentre of the second quake, there is a delay in help arriving because the mountainous roads are gridlocked by those trying to leave.

Rows of buildings have collapsed into piles of debris that rescuers are trying to cope with, while a bitterly cold wind blew smoke and dust from the rubble into their eyes.

Survivors now living on the streets are having to hunt for food and to burn furniture they find to keep warm. Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing later this week.

It’s a similar situation in the port city of Iskenderun, where now homeless people are taking shelter in open space away from buildings.

One woman the BBC spoke to is sheltering with her children and grandchildren, including a six-year-old who has epilepsy. Relief workers have brought them duvets and they have been given some bread but there has been no other support so far.

“I’m devastated,” a doctor at a local hospital told Reuters. “I see bodies inside, everywhere. Although I’m used to seeing bodies because of my expertise, it’s very difficult also for me.”

The port in Iskenderun has been closed until further notice because of a major fire, meaning ships carrying cargo bound for the earthquake disaster zone are being diverted.

The blaze is thought to have been caused when an oil-filled shipping container tipped over as a result of the earthquake and then flames spread to the surrounding freight.

Emergency services are having trouble getting access to the site because of damage from the quake and other containers now blocking the entrance. An attempt to use a fire-fighting boat to tackle the blaze has failed.

There have also been reports of difficulties getting aid to northern Syria, especially in opposition-held areas. Control there is divided between the government and other opposition groups. They remain embroiled in conflict as a result of an ongoing civil war.

Even before the earthquake the situation in much of the region was critical, with freezing weather, crumbling infrastructure and a cholera outbreak causing misery for many of those who live there. More than four million people, mainly women and children, were already relying on aid.

The north-west especially has become one of the hardest places to reach, with only one small crossing on the Turkish border available to transport resources to opposition-held areas.

The UN said on Tuesday that it was temporarily stopping aid flows to Syria because of damage to the route, with no clear idea of when it would restart.

Syria’s UN envoy has said that any support must come from within the country and not across the border with Turkey, leading those in opposition-held areas to worry that it may be withheld for political reasons.

The scenes of devastation have been interspersed with brief moments of hope. A baby born under the rubble near the city of Afrin has been rescued after being found still attached to its mother, who died after giving birth.__BBC.com