The Turkish Red Crescent Society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have announced emergency relief and recovery operations following a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the eastern Turkish province of Van on Sunday, killing more than two hundred people and injuring over a thousand others.
A day after the most powerful quake to hit Turkey since 1999, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the deployment of more than five hundred search, rescue, and health workers from nearly forty provinces to assist residents as they scrambled to find loved ones, the International Business Times reports. To address the immediate needs of those left homeless by the disaster, TRC sent shipments of tents, blankets, sleeping bags, latrines, and food; established disaster management centers in the affected area; and dispatched a hundred and ten disaster specialists from other parts of the country to the quake zone.
The Business Times reports that other countries, including the United States, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, and Greece, have offered assistance, but that Erdoğan said he believes Turkey will be able to meet the challenge of rebuilding on its own.
Three fault lines cross the country, and while Turkey has upgraded its emergency systems in recent years, experts say its infrastructure still lags that of developed nations and that it would be in the best interests of quake survivors for it to accept outside aid. "It would be better to accept all the help you can get," Matthew Free, former chairman of the Institution of Structural Engineers' earthquake field investigation team, told Reuters. "It's not a good time to be proud...saving lives is the top priority."