Turkey remembers earthquake victims

Turkey remembers earthquake victims

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey remembers earthquake victims

Thirteen years after a deadly earthquake struck Turkey’s Marmara region, those who lost loved ones are trying to go on with their lives. AA photo

Thirteen years after a deadly earthquake struck Turkey’s Marmara region, those who lost loved ones are trying to go on with their lives.

A commemoration for the approximately 18,000 people who died in the earthquake in Kocaeli was held at at 3:02 a.m., the same time that the quake struck on Aug. 17, 1999.

Visits to earthquake memorials and prayers were organized in at various locations in Gölcük, the district that was the epicenter of the quake, including the August 17 Earthquake Cemetery in İhsaniye and the İhsaniye Çiftlik Ulu Mosque. The August 17 Cemetery, where most of Gölcük’s earthquake victims were buried, was crowded with the relatives of those who had died. Others paid visits to the Yazlık Asri, Değirmendere and Ulusal Cemeteries, and said prayers in the Halıdere Tea Garden in memory of the people who lost their lives there. A group of disabled scuba divers also dove down to the site of submerged earthquake wreckage to lay a wreath there in the memory of the earthquake’s victims.

“In the 1999 earthquake we saw that it is not earthquake that kills people, it is the buildings that kill them. We have to be prepared for possible future earthquakes,” Gölcük Mayor Mehmet Ellibeş said.
Although 13 years have passed since the deadly earthquake, 4,556 moderately damaged buildings in the Yalova district, where thousands of people died in the quake, are still in use, Doğan News Agency has reported. “There are [also] 3,751 moderately damaged buildings in the Kocaeli district, including 13,487 flats and offices in total,” Kocaeli Gov. Ercan Topaca said. It has also been revealed that 65 percent of the buildings in Sakarya district, where 4,000 people died in the 1999 earthquake, still don’t have any building insurance, Anatolia news agency reported. Out of 172,570 apartments in the area, only 56,376 are insured. Many things will change when the new Disaster Insurance Law comes into force on Aug. 18, the Natural Disaster Insurance Institution’s (DASK) regional representative Ali Esen said, Anatolia news agency reported. Those who do not insure their apartments will not be able to get water, electricity or natural gas service, Esen said.

CHP delegation visits Van earthquake region

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairmen Umut Oran and Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Secretary-General Bihlun Tamaylıgil have visited the eastern city of Van, which was shaken by a deadly earthquake last year. Although 13 years have passed since the Marmara earthquake, the wounds are still not healed, and the necessary measures have still not been taken in the region, Oran said. “There have been no lessons learned from the earthquake here; our citizens living here are still suffering one year after the earthquake” Oran said.