A day imprinted in the memory.. which will never be forgotten.

It was a year ago today. Earthquake has been reported in the eastern states of Turkey. To be honest, that day we did not realize that this earthquake would be the biggest and most destructive earthquake of the last 100 years.

After clarifying the information, we realized that a major disaster had befallen us. Two separate earthquakes measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale struck 11 states in an area the size of the Balkans, and then immediately moved through the quake zone.

A child who grew up after the earthquake

I grew up in a city prone to earthquakes. The city of Sakarya is located on a fault line that has seen large, destructive earthquakes. As children, we always grew up hearing horror stories about the massive earthquake that occurred in 1968. Then I personally witnessed that terrible earthquake in 1999.

An earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale hit our city, causing massive destruction. Our loved ones, relatives and neighbors were buried under the debris. The roads, houses and schools that held our memories were completely destroyed and we lost about 18,000 people in 1999.

When I visited cities during the 2023 earthquake, I realized that we had witnessed a larger and more destructive earthquake than any we had seen before.

cities wiped off the map

The earthquake affected 11 states, but caused massive destruction in 5 cities. I started going through them one by one.

Hatay, Adiyaman, Kahramanmaraş, Malatya, Gaziantep… It was impossible to meet all the needs of search and rescue operations in this large geographical area with a population of about 13 million people.

The screams of the people trapped under the debris, who were waiting for someone to save them, were not reaching our ears. We were doing our journalism with full dedication and at the same time trying to help.

The winter was very harsh and cold that night. People from all over Turkey ran to help, but it was not enough. The destruction was so great that some city districts were completely destroyed, rendering them inaccessible. Some areas of these cities have now disappeared from the map.

Amazing example of unity

Government institutions were unable to deal with such a huge disaster. Therefore, everyone in the country came forward to help. Businesses were sending their cranes, excavators, generators and machinery, even clothes and food to the region.

On the other hand, help came not only from Turkey but from many countries of the world. Our biggest problem was the lack of search and rescue teams. Then there was a need for tents and containers for shelter.

During this period, Qatar held a special place in the hearts of the Turkish people thanks to its assistance. Thanks to the great efforts made by His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Nasser bin Jassim Al Thani, Qatar's Ambassador in Ankara, and His Excellency Dr. Mustafa Kocsu, Turkey's Ambassador in Doha, 1,000 tons of aid and $56 million in cash assistance were provided. Sent to Türkiye.

The stories of solidarity I saw in cities cannot be forgotten. The people have united like no other, and neither politics, nor religion, nor intellectual differences have been able to break this union.

I can say that we have passed the test of unity as a nation in this great disaster, but the same cannot be said about politicians.

a devastating toll

For a long time we could not know the number of casualties, the number of injured and the number of buildings destroyed. Government institutions also took 15 days to return to full operations.

But when we looked at the bigger picture, we realized that no country in the world can deal with such a disaster alone. The result was as follows:

  • 57 thousand people lost their lives.
  • 107 thousand people were injured.
  • 200 thousand buildings were seriously damaged.
  • 38 thousand buildings were completely destroyed.
  • 13 million people were affected by this earthquake.
  • Also, 691,000 people are still living in containers.

we have to live with earthquakes

Turkey is a country of earthquakes. Major destructive earthquakes have occurred over hundreds of years. Unfortunately, we did not build our cities accordingly. Most of the buildings that collapsed in the recent earthquake were not built as per earthquake-resistant building standards.

Our institutions were not prepared for earthquakes of this magnitude. Now we learn a lesson from all this. We should learn a lesson from this; Because we fear another big earthquake in Istanbul.

Most of the city (Istanbul) is filled with buildings that are not earthquake resistant. We will probably have the world's largest urban transformation in Istanbul.

Accordingly, approximately 1.5 million buildings will undergo urban transformation. Of these buildings, 90,000 should be immediately demolished and rebuilt. Also, roads, intersections, dams, bridges and tunnels are being reviewed and some of them are being strengthened.

In short, we must prepare for new earthquakes without forgetting February 6, 2023.

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