Duvar English

Following the 6.8 earthquake that hit Turkey’s southeastern provinces of Elazığ and Malatya on Jan. 24, thousands of residents are still living in makeshift tents, unable to keep themselves warm amid enduring freezing conditions.

A report prepared by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) urged the government to tackle the issue of permanent accommodation as soon as possible as “tents are in no way the solution to the accommodation problem.”

“All of the citizens [earthquake victims] whom we talked on the field have said that they could not stay warm in anyway [in the tents] in such freezing conditions,” said the report shared with the public on Feb. 5 during a press conference held by CHP’s Malatya deputy Veli Ağbaba.

Ağbaba said it was mostly Malatya’s districts of Pütürge, Doğanyol, Kale, Battalgazi and Yeşilyurt that were affected by the disastrous earthquake in the province. He said that houses in these districts mostly were made of mud-brick or brick as a result of which 80 percent of them were “heavily damaged.”

“In the Malatya province, four of our citizens lost their lives, another 481 injured [due to the earthquake]. The biggest problem that the region now experiences is the accommodation issue,” said Ağbaba.

“There is no village left [in the Malatya districts] which have not yet received tents. But, due to the temperature falling to -15 Celsius and the snow level being 1.5-2 meters in length, a majority of our citizens cannot stay in tents,” he said.

Number of permanent houses to be built ‘should be increased’

The Environment and Urbanization Ministry had said in a statement on Jan. 29 that 2,550 permanent houses were to be built in Malatya for earthquake survivors. However, the CHP report said this figure will not suffice for the province as the number of houses damaged “moderately and heavily” in even just three districts (Doğanyol, Pütürge and Kale) was around 5,500. Ağbaba said they had calculated this number after talking with the neighborhood heads (“muhtar”).

“The ministry should reassess its evaluations regarding the damages in the villages and increase the number of houses to be built,” he said.

The magnitude 6.8 quake caused 37 deaths in Elazığ and four in neighboring Malatya. More than 1,600 others were hurt.

Turkey has a history of powerful earthquakes. More than 17,000 people were killed in August 1999 when a 7.6 magnitude quake struck İzmit, a city southeast of Istanbul. In 2011, a quake in the eastern province of Van killed more than 500.