Erdogan vows to continue rescue operations until last person is saved
The Turkish President is to build high-quality buildings to solve the disaster's housing problem in the quake zones.
Thousands have been killed and tens of thousands were injured after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria last Monday. The powerful quake was one of the strongest to strike the area in more than a century. Rescue workers are digging through debris in freezing conditions, while the death toll is on the rise.
Cheers took over the rescuers in #Hatay when 19-year-old Oguzhan Boşnak was pulled out from under the rubble, covered in a thermal blanket, before being taken away on a stretcher by emergency workers.#TurkeyEarthquake pic.twitter.com/KBfJWN6Q03— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) February 12, 2023
Read more: Latest updates on Turkey, Syria earthquakes
At a briefing at the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) in Ankara, President Recap Tayyib Erdogan stated that rescue operations will continue in the earthquake zone until the very last living person is pulled from under the rubble.
The Turkish President assured that the operations will not rest until everyone is rescued. He added that authorities will allocate 100,000 liras, approximately $5,300, to families who fell victim to the disaster.
After the series of powerful earthquakes and aftershocks that hit parts of Syria and Turkey, death tolls exceeded 35,000.
30,000 Houses construction to start in March
President Erdogan also announced that authorities will begin the construction of 30,000 residential buildings in the earthquake zone in March. “Within a few months, the construction of all houses that we build away from the fault lines will start," Erdogan said.
The Turkish President pointed out that 98% of the collapsed buildings had been built before the year 1999, referring to the goal of completing the construction of high-quality and safe buildings aimed to solve the housing problem in the entire earthquake zone.
With the death toll exceeding 35,000, the disaster thus became the most destructive in the country’s history.
Read next: Turkey-Armenia border open first time in 35 years for aid delivery
This comes as certain news outlets reported that survivors of the quake have criticized Erdogan's government over the insufficient number of rescuers and aid being provided in the first days that followed the catastrophe.
But Erdogan himself admitted that Turkish emergency services failed to have intervened swiftly and could have done better to address the disaster.
"So many buildings were damaged that unfortunately, we were not able to speed up our interventions as quickly as we had desired," Erdogan said during a visit to the city of Adiyaman, noting that the winter storm had made it more difficult for emergency services to access certain roads.
"Moreover, most public workers who would have conducted the first intervention and organization were themselves under the collapsed buildings," he said, while pointing out that Turkey had gathered "perhaps the world's largest search and rescue team" made up of 141,000 across 10 affected provinces.
Read more: Turkey-Syria earthquake search operations underway, toll exceeds 21,000
On another note, as he aims to safeguard his electoral prospects ahead of the May 14 elections, the Turkish leader slammed critics against his government over slow rescue efforts.
A prominent opposition politician named Kemal Kilicdaroglu accused "profiteers" affiliated with Erdogan's government that did not follow adequate construction codes.
Erdogan slammed his critics as "opportunists who want to turn this pain into their political gain."
Read more: Eastern Mediterranean very dangerous at seismic level: Hoogerbeets