Engineers get death threats while conducting damage assessment in earthquake zone in Turkey

Engineers conducting damage assessment in the quake-stricken Osmaniye have left the province after receiving death threats via anonymous calls. Most of the buildings were highly damaged during the earthquakes in the province, yet the MHP-run municipality reported them with no damage.

Duvar English

Engineers who have been conducting damage assessment studies have left Osmaniye province after receiving death threats via anonymous calls, Timur Soykan from the daily Birgün reported on Feb. 16. One of the engineers who left the district filed a criminal complaint about the threats on Feb. 14.

Accordingly, the residents of Osmaniye's Kadirli district have started to make agreements with private damage assessment companies after the far-right National Movement Party (MHP)-affiliated district municipality reported buildings with cracks and collapsed walls as "undamaged."

Engineers from private firms started to conduct analyses on the damaged buildings and take samples in order to assess the buildings’ resistance to earthquakes. 

However, the engineers on Feb. 12 started receiving several threat calls. The callers allegedly said, “If you inspect 15-year-old buildings, we will kill you.” Finally, the company told the site management about the situation and left the district.

In the criminal complaint, one of the engineers said: “Some phone numbers, which we had never heard of or recognized before, called us and threatened us with death for entering the buildings. We guess that we were threatened by contractors who were afraid that we would identify deficiencies in the buildings.”

The engineers received 32 threatening phone calls between Feb. 12-14, according to the complaint.

As of Feb. 16, some 36,187 people have yet lost their lives, and approximately 108,068 others have been injured in two major earthquakes that struck southeastern Turkey early on Feb. 6.

While thousands of buildings have been demolished or damaged in the quakes, thousands of people had to leave their homes.