Two children die in tent fire in earthquake-hit Van
VAN - Doğan News Agency
The fire spread from a coal-burning stove inside the tent, according to reports. Two siblings, Bahar Tolukan, 8, and İsmail Tolukan, 4, lost their lives in the fire. AA photo
Two children were killed and three were injured Nov. 18 in a fire in a tent in Van, which has been witnessing a mass exodus following last month’s deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake and repeated aftershocks.
Two siblings, Bahar Tolukan, 8 and İsmail Tolukan, 4, died in the fire, while father Mehmet Tolukan, 35 and his daughter, Elif Tolukan, 7, were taken to hospital for treatment before being released, according to reports.
Mikail Tolukan, 11, was also transferred to Istanbul by plane to receive medical treatment.
The fire spread from a coal-burning stove inside the tent on the morning of Nov. 18, according to reports.
After their home was damaged in the quake, the Tolukan family set up the tent in the garden of their single story house in the village of Karpuzalan. The Oct. 23 earthquake killed more than 600 and left thousands homeless in its wake; many quake survivors have continued to live in tent cities set up after the initial temblor despite difficult weather conditions and bitter cold.
Van Mayoralty’s Fire Authority Director Osman Acar said there have been 15 fires in tents so far.
“A lot of people use electricity heating in their tents. Some use two or three heaters, but fires occurs when their blankets fall on the heaters,” Acar said.
“We are not telling the quake victims to not use their heaters but the heaters are the only reasons for these fires,” Acar said.
Meanwhile, the Van airport and bus terminals in the province are reported to be highly congested with many residents attempting to leave the city.
Estimates on the number of people who have left the province since the quakes began run as high as 370,000 people.
“The city’s soul left off along with the exodus. Most of those who left will not be coming back. They will run into hardships where they have immigrated and Van will never be the old Van. We could have mended our wounds much faster if we had been able to shelter people here,” said Temez Demez, the head of the Van Village Heads’ Association.