Turkey earthquake: Rescued teenager lifts spirits of a nation
Turkey earthquake: Five days after a 7.2 earthquake shook eastern Turkey, rescue workers pulled a 13-year old boy alive from a collapsed building.
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In Ercis alone, a town of around 100,000 people, hardly anyone was going back to their homes even if they were still standing.Skip to next paragraph
President Abdullah Gul announced that parades and receptions for Republic Day on Saturday were canceled, and went on to bemoan poor construction and lack of inspections in Turkey that led to a "problem of shoddy buildings".
"While the Van earthquake has reminded us of the reality that ours is a country prone to earthquakes, it has also shown the destruction caused by neglect and irresponsibility," he said.
Two or three tent cities have sprouted on the outskirts of Ercis, but thousands of men, having settled children and women as best they can, wander at night looking for shelter.
With nowhere to go, they lean against walls to protect themselves from the rain.
Some survivors, who had stood in long queues only to be told there were no tents left, accused officials of handing aid to supporters of the ruling AK party. Others said profiteers were hoarding tents and reselling them.
Scuffles broke out in one long line to a distribution center, before police stepped in to calm tempers.
Any accusations of neglect or ineptitude can be politically sensitive.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan visited the area hours after the quake and wants to build bridges with Turkey's minority Kurds and is expected to go again at the weekend.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in a Kurdish separatist insurgency in the region that has lasted three decades. Last week militants killed 24 troops in neighboring Hakkari province.
A government that had thought it could manage the relief effort alone is now gratefully accepting foreign help in the shape of tents, prefabricated housing and containers.
The first foreign planeloads of tents arrived on Thursday.
In total 35,000 tents have been sent to the region.
Unable to meet demand, relief authorities in the provincial capital Van decided to hand out tents to people only after verifying their homes were too unsafe to return to.
The disaster administration said that out of some 10,000 damaged buildings assessed so far, half were uninhabitable.
People fear their homes have become deathtraps, as 1,139 aftershocks have rattled the area since the quake.
Vainly trying to dry linen and blankets after the rain, one mother was ready to be persuaded to quit her tent and go home out of a mixture of desperation and resignation.
"Last night, it rained and all our belongings are still wet. I don't know how many more days we can stay in a tent like this," the woman, who gave her name as Nimet, told Reuters, pointing at the block where she lived near the center of Van.
(Additional reporting by Seda Sezer and Kumeyra Pamuk in Van; Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Daren Butler; Editing by Richard Meares)