Müzeyyen Yüce/ DUVAR

Following the disastrous 6.8 Earthquake that struck the southeastern city of Elazığ last week and claimed the lives of 41 people while injuring 1600, thousands of residents are living in tents while at least hundreds are without heating, enduring freezing conditions amid a cold winter. 

The number of tents distributed by the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent has reached the 4,745 mark.

350 tents in the city’s Culture Park have been established primarily by Syrian families. Those living in the Mustafa Paşa, Karşıyaka and Sanayi areas of Elazığ, which experienced significant damage as a result of the earthquake, established a tent city and brought the blankets that they were able to retrieve from their homes. While some tents have heating stoves, others lack them, causing families to endure freezing conditions in a park where the pond has frozen over. 

Ahmet Özkul and his family lived in the Karşıyaka neighborhood, where he said the buildings are old and a process of urban transformation had recently begun. 

“If it shakes here again all the houses will fall. Until the state gives us a place we will stay in the tent. I have two young grandchildren, they are in a bad situation. They are freezing at night. I’m not sure what we will do after this, we are waiting for the state, Özkul said. 

The earthquake caused nearly all of the roofs of the buildings in the Mustafa Paşa and Sanayi neighborhoods to crack. A segment of the neighborhood has left to move in with relatives in nearby provinces while those staying in the area are afraid of a subsequent earthquake. “We can’t go and we can’t stay. There is nowhere for us to go,” said one resident. 

In the Sanayi neighborhood, where there are numerous old buildings, the extent of the damage done is still being determined. Families who lived in buildings that experienced severe damage are taking the furniture that they are table to take and leaving. 

One family in the Sürsürü neighborhood of Elazığ lost five relatives after their building collapsed. Aişe and Mehmet Arifoğlu, their daughter Halime Aslan and their grandchildren Miraç Ali and Rüya Aslan all died, while the Arifoğlu’s son Enes, who was on his way home five minutes before the earthquake struck, survived. Halime Aslan was on semester break and had come to Elazığ with her children to visit her parents.