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May 29, 2024

One Year Later, Turkey Still Reeling from Earthquake Devastation

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Feb 6, 2024

February 6th, 2024 marks one year since a catastrophic 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria, killing over 50,000 people and leaving millions homeless. As Turkey held memorial services and moments of silence, the scale of the ongoing recovery efforts and the trauma still impacting survivors became clear.

Ongoing Search for Loved Ones

A year later, some families are still searching the rubble for remains of missing loved ones to give them a proper burial. With over 5,000 people still missing in Turkey alone, the search continues but hope is fading.

“I envy people who have a grave to visit,” said survivor Berilsu Izgi. “We still haven’t found my aunt’s remains from under the rubble.”

Makeshift graveyards have popped up near the destruction, filled with nameless graves for the many bodies that are yet to be identified.

Slow Rebuilding Process

While nearly 2 million survivors have been moved from tents and container homes into newly built apartments, the rebuilding process has been slower and more chaotic than expected.

Funding and allocation issues, arguments over zoning laws, and even outbreaks of violence have hampered reconstruction efforts. The Turkish government faces growing criticism over the delays and lack of oversight.

“The most important reason why the reconstruction is delayed is the lack of a sound coordination between various state institutions,” said Özgür Unluhisarcıklı, Ankara director of the German Marshall Fund.

The slow pace has left many struggling to restart their lives, with some still living in temporary shelters despite bold government promises to rebuild the region.

Type of Temporary Housing # of Survivors Still Housed
Tents 200,000
Container Homes 150,000
Government Accommodations Over 1 million

Ongoing Psychological Trauma

While focus has shifted toward physical rebuilding, mental health experts warn that psychological trauma still haunts many survivors. Nightmares, insomnia, depression and anxiety are still commonly reported issues.

“It’s very difficult to recover from the memory of that night,” said elementary school teacher Emel Topal, who lost 22 members of her family. “The slightest noise at night scares me and gives me chills down my spine.”

Making matters worse, vital psycho-social services are limited across the region. Those struggling to make ends meet can hardly afford mental health treatment.

For orphaned children like 1-year-old Afraa, who was pulled from the rubble after 7 hours, the trauma will last a lifetime. As she marks her first birthday, the scars from crushed limbs and broken bones have healed – but the mental scars linger.

Future Earthquake Threats

While Turkey has updated building codes and vowed to construct disaster-resilient infrastructure, experts warn major cities like Istanbul remain vulnerable to similar devastation.

Situated near active fault lines, some estimate Istanbul faces a 60% chance of being hit by a 7+ magnitude earthquake by 2030. Having learned little from 1999’s 7.4-magnitude earthquake that killed 17,000 people, Istanbul’s infrastructure is still extremely susceptible.

“The Turkish government is still not really prepared for the next big one,” warned environmental expert Levent Kurnaz. “The question is when, no longer if, another major quake will take place.”

Some steps have been taken toward preparedness, including more open green spaces that double as gathering points after a disaster. But full-scale infrastructure reinforcements are estimated to take decades more to complete.

For survivors still struggling one year later, the potential of yet another catastrophic earthquake compounds anxieties and fears about the future. While the shaking lasted less than a minute that fateful night last February, aftershocks continue to rattle bodies, minds and hearts.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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