Snow adds to Turkey quake victims pains
Saturday Nov 12, 2011
ERCIS, Turkey: Rain gave way to snow Thursday in eastern Turkey, making life miserable for thousands of earthquake survivors as the death toll from the weekend disaster rose to 534.
Emergency officials said 2,300 people were injured and 185 have been rescued from the rubble after Sunday's devastating 7.2-magnitude quake. Some 2,000 buildings have been destroyed and authorities declared another 3,700 buildings unfit for habitation.
More aid began to reach survivors, with Turkish authorities delivering more tents after acknowledging distribution problems that included saw aid trucks being looted even before they reached Ercis, the hardest-hit town.
Families who did snag a precious aid tent shared them with others. But some people spent a fourth night outdoors huddled under blankets in front of campfires, either waiting for news of the missing or keeping watch over damaged homes.
As survivors gathered pieces of wood to light campfires or stove-heaters, The Red Crescent and several pro-Islamic groups set up kitchens and dished out soup or rice and beans.
Sermin Yildirim, eight months pregnant, was sharing a tent with a family of four who were distant relatives, along with her own twins and husband. Her family was too afraid of returning to their apartment.
"It's getting colder, my kids are coughing. I don't know how long we will have to stay here," Yildirim said. "We were not able to get a tent. We are waiting to get our own."
Muhlise Bakan, 41, was not happy to share her tent with her husband's second wife, Hamide.
"I have four children, she has five," Bakan said. "We were sleeping in separate rooms at our house, and now we are sleeping side by side here."
However, she acknowledged the two women were now "closer" as they struggled together in hard times. Turkish law does not recognize second marriages, but some conservative men in the country's southeast still marry more then one wife in religious ceremonies.
Health problems increased the hardship.
"I am very sick, I need medicine," said Kevsel Astan, 40, who had a kidney transplant four years ago.
She said she was being treated at the state hospital until the quake struck. The damaged hospital was evacuated and doctors were focusing on emergency cases.
Burke Cinar, a sociologist with a Turkish foundation, said the group was trying to get tents for the families of 15 children with leukemia in Ercis.
Looking ahead, Turkey's weather agency predicted intermittent snowfall for the next three days.