[1/2] A man stands among the rubble after a deadly earthquake in Kirhan, Turkey, February 9, 2023. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
ISTANBUL/KAHRAMANMARAS, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Turkey is grappling with one of the biggest challenges of an earthquake that devastated parts of its cities: how to provide housing for hundreds of thousands of homeless people in the dead of winter.
Rows of tents are being set up in stadiums and in ruined city centers, and summer beach resorts in the Mediterranean and Aegean outside the earthquake zone are opening hotel rooms for evacuees.
Some 6,500 buildings collapsed and countless structures were damaged, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without safe shelter.
Syrian refugee Bahjat Selo, 62, and his family camped outside their cinder-block, concrete and corrugated metal home in Kahramanmaras after an earthquake cracked the walls.
"It's too dangerous to be inside. When we go after things, we go like thieves,” he told Reuters.
“We spent four years in the same camp - it was harder. It was so dark,” he said, his voice broken by sobs.
In a tent city set up on the grounds of a stadium in Kahramanmaras, ragged residents lined up for steaming kebabs and rummaged through donated bags of thermal clothing.
Aviation volunteer Fatma Nakar, 25, said that although her aunt and several nephews died in the earthquake, she still helped.
“After we buried them, we came here to volunteer,” she said, adding that aid was slow to arrive due to blocked roads.
According to the statistics of the Bureau of Emergency Management, to date, more than 28 thousand homeless people have been rescued from the earthquake zone, of which about 5 thousand were evacuated by road, more than 23 thousand by plane.
In the Aegean resort of Marmaris, the owner of the Cettia Beach hotel opened a hotel for earthquake survivors.
"My hotel is closed for the winter and was supposed to open in April when summer starts. We are renovating the hotel, but next week we will stop to reopen the hotel," owner Bulent Bulbuloglu says.
The Turkish Hotel Federation told Reuters that resorts such as Antalya, Alanya, Marmaris, Fethiye, Bodrum, as well as Izmir and Cappadocia have allocated thousands of rooms for guests.
“On Wednesday morning, Antalya hotels received the first guests from the disaster area,” said Ulkay Atmadzha, president of the Association of Professional Hotel Managers.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the government is doing its best to provide temporary housing for survivors who wish to relocate.
He told reporters that 15,729 people were accommodated in government boarding houses, student dormitories and hotels, and in Antalya alone, 11,165 evacuees were living in hotels.
But with thousands still buried under piles of rubble, many survivors seem reluctant to leave the area, despite the cold weather.
“We have allocated hotel rooms, but we see that many survivors do not want to come now because they are still waiting for their families or friends to be rescued from the rubble,” said Hakan Saatcioglu, coordinator of Limak International Hotels & Resorts Thalia operates four hotels.
In Antakya, in the central district of Hatay, it is almost impossible to get to public toilets. The tent city near the Hatay Stadium outside the city center and even the field hospital next to the partially damaged Hatay Research Hospital had no public or portable toilets as of Wednesday evening.
The death toll from Turkey's worst 7.8 earthquake since 1999 rose to 16,170 on Thursday.
The fire brigade said sixteen people were killed and at least 85 injured in a collision between two trains in Greece late on Tuesday, although the circumstances of the crash remain unclear.
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Post time: Mar-01-2023