Cold temperatures take over life in quake town

Cold temperatures take over life in quake town

Cold temperatures take over life in quake town

The newly established tent cities in Van are now covered with snow. Many families living in the tents complain of the decreasing temperatures, especially at night. DHA photo

Extremely cold weather reaching up to minus 14 degrees Celsius in quake-stricken Van has been making life increasingly difficult for the victims of two devastating temblors in the eastern province over the last month.

“We are comfortable in the morning but it gets very cold at night. The problem is with the tents. We want these to be immediately replaced with prefabricated homes,” said Ahmet Çalışkan, adding that they had difficulty sleeping through the entire night.

Meanwhile, a 5.2-magnitude tremor shook Van yesterday, bringing more woe to the freezing survivors of two earthquakes in the past month that killed 644 people in the eastern province. The 5.2-magnitude tremor that occurred at 12:08 a.m. yesterday was an aftershock of the original 7.2 magnitude quake on Oct. 23, according to Doğan Kalafat, the director of Istanbul’s Kandilli Observatory. Yesterday’s tremor was also reportedly followed by 26 smaller aftershocks but there were no reports of any significant damage.

Last week’s 5.7-magnitude tremor, by contrast, was classified as an independent earthquake.

“We are aiming to deliver all our citizens in need from [having to reside in] tents within one month at most. Citizens who will be hosted in public guesthouses will also be determined by the family and social policies minister,” Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar said, adding that they were going to distribute cold-resistant containers measuring 21-square-meters in size.

Bayraktar also rebuffed critics who slammed his Oct. 29 comments that no earthquakes would occur in the area and that people could go return to their houses unless their buildings had collapsed or were too heavily damaged.

“We are going to look through all the buildings in Turkey, some 19.5 million structures. This was partially done in Istanbul. There are currently a lot of buildings that need to be evacuated and demolished in Istanbul. The inventory of housing built after 2000 in Turkey is robust,” Erdoğan said.

Legal arrangements are also underway to reduce bureaucratic obstacles while tightening controls and the inspection of new buildings, he said.

Meanwhile, 70,000 people in Van have appealed to the authorities over two days to find shelter at the social facilities of public institutions in other provinces. By contrast, only around 2,500 people can be sent to such facilities every day, according to reports.

Winter clothing, electric heaters, blankets and beds are in great demand in the disaster-stricken province, while officials have warned that they are running out of baby food in the area. While tent cities in the province mostly have access to electricity, a lack of water is a growing problem, according to reports.

While yesterday’s tremor was not strong enough to cause much damage in Van, some damaged buildings still run the risk of a partial collapse after being subjected to such repeated tremors due to the highly ravaged state of many buildings in the province, said Associate Professor Oğuz Gündoğdu of Istanbul University’s Geophysics Engineering Department.

Compiled from daily Radikal and Anatolia news agency stories by the Daily News staff in Istanbul.