Victims of 2011 Van quakes continue to live in container cities

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has asked quake-hit citizens to give the government “one year” to build new houses, however, despite the passing of 12 years, 72 families are still living in containers set up in the aftermath of 2011 Van earthquakes.

Kadir Cesur / Gazete Duvar

The government has asked for “one year” to build new homes for the quake-hit citizens however 72 families have been living in container cities for the last 12 years since the 2011 Van earthquake destroyed their houses.  

The eastern province of Van was rocked by two quakes on Oct. 23, 2011 and on Nov. 9, 2011, the first at a magnitude of 7.2 and the other at a magnitude of 5.6. Some 644 people lost their lives in both of the quakes.

In the aftermath of the quakes, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) set up container cities. In time, the number of families living in these makeshift cities decreased, but still, 72 families are living in 120 containers since they have no other place to go.

One of the 2011 Van quake survivors told Gazete Duvar, “Our life is over. We do not deserve to live here,” while another said: “They (government officials) come here whenever they need our help. They ask for votes. They don’t know what we are going through. If they remove all this place (containers) where will we go?”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been vowing that the government will build new houses after two major earthquakes hit the country’s southeastern region, destroying thousands of structures and killing more than 45,000 people. Erdoğan has been continuously telling people to “give us one year” for the construction process. However, architects and engineers have been warning against a hasty plan to rebuild, saying that the country risks courting another disaster unless urban planning and building safety are carefully re-considered.  

(English version by Didem Atakan)