The rescue operations are still ongoing in areas of Turkey and Syria, which suffered from devastating earthquakes early Monday. But due to slow rescue operations and lack of responsibility, the death toll has risen to over 15,000 in both countries. Because of this, many have been criticizing the Turkish and Syrian governments for their slow response to natural disasters of this scale. In response to this criticism, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that it is impossible to keep the preparations ready for a natural disaster of such scale. Although it is a considerable response to the disaster, it is still not enough to justify the extremely slow response by the official rescue teams, as it only raised the death toll significantly high. Even though earthquakes were exponentially major in their magnitude, it is evident that the Turkish government was indeed underprepared. For a country that lies in one of the most active earthquake zones in the world, it was a poor response.
On early Monday, around 10 cities in south-eastern Turkey suffered from an earthquake of magnitude 7.8. The earthquake hit the region at around 4 am when people were in deep sleep. Because of this, people failed to get themselves out of their homes to safety, thus many got stuck under the concrete rubble. Adding more strain to the situation, the rescue teams reached late to the location, which made it harder for trapped people to survive under the rubble. After just 12 hours of the first earthquake, a second earthquake of magnitude 7.5 hit northern Turkey. Observing the response shown by the Turkish government, criticism sparked against the ruling government for its slow response to the natural disaster. The WHO also released a warning after two earthquakes that the death toll will be eight folds higher in the country.
The Turkish opposition was the first to criticize the disaster management by the Turkish government. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Turkish opposition, held the Turkish President accountable for one of the highest death tolls due to an earthquake. He said Mr. Erdogan is the only person responsible for higher death tolls. Addressing these accusations, President Erdogan said this is time to show unity when the country is facing a disaster of such scale. He addressed these accusations while stating that it is harder to imagine people conducting negative campaigns for their own political gains.
When the officials are busy pointing fingers, people who lost their homes to the earthquake are struggling to survive in cold temperatures. The WHO warned the Turkish government of possible freezing injuries in people who survived during shaking. Robert Holden, the representative from WHO, said that the people who survived the earthquake are now exposed to harsh freezing temperatures. He further said that this could lead to a second disaster in the form of freezing deaths, adding more to already higher death tolls. The situation in Syria is even worse because of damage to infrastructure such as roads, making it harder for rescue teams to reach the affected families. But the efforts from the UN and Turkish government have sparked a ray of hope as the government has agreed to open more gates.