Exodus from quake-hit Van as fresh tremor hits

Exodus from quake-hit Van as fresh tremor hits

Vercihan Ziflioğlu ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Exodus from quake-hit Van as fresh tremor hits

Quake survivors in the eastern province of Van flee the city amid fears over new tremors and relief efforts. Survivors have been mainly relocating to neighboring cities. DHA photo

Rental prices throughout eastern Turkey have been skyrocketing in response to demand driven by people seeking to escape Van after the province suffered two devastating earthquakes over the last month.

“We have been searching for a house for five days along with other quake survivors from Van. Rental prices have appreciated at a rate of 30 percent. Rental prices range between 800 and 1,200 Turkish Liras on average. This situation needs to be alleviated,” Mehmet Güler, a resident of Van who fled to the southeastern province of Diyarbakır along with eight of his family members following Oct. 23’s 7.2-magnitude earthquake, told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Quake survivors have been mainly relocating to the neighboring provinces of Diyarbakır and Bingöl following last week’s 5.7-magnitude earthquake. Some are taking refuge in their relatives’ homes, while others in better financial shape are choosing to look for rental opportunities.

Güler, who lost six of his family members in the Oct. 23 temblor, said he used to frequently visit Diyarbakır and was thus well-informed about the real estate prices there.

“I am not talking with the intention of targeting any institution or person, but the tents are inadequate because they are not resistant to winter conditions. Turkey ought to accept international aid as this is urgently needed,” Güler said.

Güler also said he had appealed to many government institutions in the aftermath of the first tremor, including the Disaster Coordination Center, but failed to obtain a tent.

“I got a tent via my own means [after] the first quake. My sister was poisoned because of the stove I had lit up for heating and we could not find any hospital to treat her. We were then forced to retreat back home when the cold and the snow arrived and got caught in the second earthquake on the fourth floor with eight people in total. The roof collapsed on us and we barely made it out alive through the ruins. It is entirely a miracle that we are still alive,” Güler said.

Flood of applications for social housing

Meanwhile, 70,000 people reportedly appealed to a community center within just two days to take advantage of temporary housing opportunities in the social facilities of public institutions in other provinces. Quake survivors will be hosted in guesthouses provided for by the governors’ offices in the event that the space at social facilities is inadequate.

The survivors will be allowed to reside in such facilities until June 12, 2012.

“We continue to receive requests for shelter, but our space is limited,” Lütfi Demir, the head of the Van Erciş Culture and Cooperation Association in Istanbul, told the Daily News.

The association has sheltered dozens of survivors to date, Demir said.

“Our association is almost showered with aid. We transmit this aid to Van through the agencies of charity institutions. The aid is still flowing in,” Demir said.

“The people of Van have experienced an irreversible trauma with the second quake. It seems unlikely that the people of Van will again return to the city after this temblor,” Güler said, adding that it had already become apparent that children of school age were also going to run into problems.