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Problems in distribution shade aid efforts in Van

VAN - Hürriyet Daily News | 10/25/2011 12:00:00 AM | Vercihan Ziflioğlu

As aid packages pour into the earthquake zone, there are complaints about lack of organization in distribution of the aids. Some shake victims say they haven’t received any tents even after three days have passed

People in the eastern province of Van were nervous three days after a major earthquake hit the city, complaining about the lack of organization in distributing aid.

Supplies have been pouring into the city since Sunday, when a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the region, but problems in distribution have caused a stir among locals.

“I cannot go back to my village empty handed, the villagers will lynch me,” the head of Kırkağaç village, located 39 kilometers from Van’s city center, told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. The village head, who identified himself only with his first name Mehmet, said many buildings in his village collapsed or were seriously damaged and the need for tents and food was urgent.

The death toll of the quake increased to 432 yesterday, according to official figures, with 1,352 people injured and more than 1,000 buildings collapsed.

The Turkish Red Crescent said in a written statement yesterday that 17,239 tents, 34,310 blankets, 3,425 catalytic heaters and 100 tons of food have already been sent to Van. In addition to state institutions, various campaigns are ongoing to collect and send supplies to the region.

But the main problem is the distribution in the city, according to Van locals.

 “This is the third day we’ve been looking for a tent,” said İlkminaz Dağlar, a 35-year-old woman who was waiting in front of the Disaster Coordination Office of the Van Governor’s Office. “Our neighbors are also outside, just like us. Lots of trucks come in but they still say there are no tents.”

Some locals are staying in tents they built themselves while many others have nothing.

Hediye Diler, whose husband died in the earthquake, said she spent the night outside with her eight children. “There is no state here, nobody helps us,” she said. “The deputy governor said there are no tents, but just yesterday a truck full of tents was looted. Those who have the power get the supplies.”

Deputy Gov. Atay Uslu denied the claims. “We have been distributing all the tents we have here,” he told the Daily News, accusing some of the quake survivors of trying to sell the tents.

“We have no problems providing food or accommodation,” Uslu said. “But the people should start staying in their houses now, at least in the undamaged ones. How can we supply tents to thousands of people?”

Deniz Baykal, former leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), told the Daily News that the problems in distribution of supplies were obvious. “I had no idea of the gravity of the situation until I came here,” said Baykal, who arrived in Van yesterday. “It is heartbreaking, especially in Erciş.”

Baykal said everybody was complaining about the lack of tents. “This is not an issue about the government; the issue here is not about politics,” said Baykal. “The distribution should be much more organized and everybody should do their part.”

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