Mayor says Quake-hit Van still in dire straits

Mayor says Quake-hit Van still in dire straits

VAN - Radikal
Mayor says Quake-hit Van still in dire straits

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake Oct 2011, killed over 600 and left thousands homeless, while a second temblor killed 40 more in the wake of an unusually cold winter. DHA photo

The eastern province of Van, which saw massive devastation in wake of last year’s earthquakes, is suffering from substantial budget cuts while victims of the disaster continue living under difficult conditions, said Van Mayor Bekir Kaya. 

“Ministers and all other visitors travel from the airport to the crisis center and [claim] everything is normal. The [area they travel through] corresponds to 5 percent of Van. Problems continue to persist in the remaining 95 percent,” Kaya said. 

Authorities slashed 40 percent of the municipality’s income in November and December 2011, despite a notice to the Mayor’s Office after the quake that no cuts would be initiated as a result of their outstanding debts, according to the mayor. 

“Due to the government’s inexplicable stance, we cannot receive any aid from international organizations either. [The situation in] Van is portrayed as a rose garden,” Kaya said. 

All three of the municipality’s buildings, as well as the fire department building, have been ruined and are no longer in usable condition, he said. Only a single hospital in the province remains in service, he said. 
“Tent fires still persist. Three people died from the same family. Would such things be happening if everything were normal?” Kaya said. 

İller Bank had promised to provide credit following the temblor but now refused to fulfill its pledge, and only about 50 to 100 students actually continue to attend their classes in schools where normally 600 to 700 students are enrolled, he said. 

“The deputy leader of the AKP [Justice and Development Party] Hüseyin Çelik clearly spelled out what he had in mind when he said, ‘If we declare Van a disaster zone, three times more money will flow to the province.’ We can explain it to the people, and they would understand, but the entire people of Van are being punished through one person within the Van Municipality,” he said. 

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake Oct. 23, 2011, killed over 600 and left thousands homeless, while a second temblor struck the province Nov. 9 last year, killing 40 more in the wake of an unusually cold winter. 

Pre-fabricated homes in Van outgrow small cities

Work is still underway in Van to establish 15,000 prefabricated container homes, as authorities plan to build a total of 28,000 in downtown Van, as well as in its environs and the district of Erciş, the epicenter of October 2011’s temblor. 

“When all the 28,000 containers are set up, 180,000 people will take shelter in them. This amounts to re-establishing a city bigger than about 50 cities in Anatolia,” Van Deputy Gov. Atay Uslu said. 

Reconstruction work began in the surrounding villages with 6,500 container homes and another 6,000 in Erciş district, Uslu said. The remaining 15,000 containers would be set up in downtown Van. “Some 10,000 citizens have been resettled in containers in the city center so far,” he said.