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In the villages of Turkey, the forgotten of the earthquake: “We are in survival”


It’s hard to imagine a more striking contrast. On the one hand, the discreet charm of nature, its humid and shimmering lands flanked by high, harshly cut mountains under a sky that has become bright again. On the other, houses flattened like leaves, twisted or torn along a ravine or on the side of the road with unprecedented violence. Travel the country roads of the region hit by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, Monday, February 6, in the early morning, between Hatay and Gaziantep, along the Syrian border, is to invite oneself into deep Turkey, that of ordinary people, farmers, workers and merchants in shock. All these villages and small towns whose daily life has been brutally upset in the space of a few moments and which, for many, feel forgotten.

According to a provisional report established Wednesday morning, the earthquake would have caused nearly 7,000 deaths in Turkey (and more than 2,500 deaths in Syria). On Tuesday, as international aid began to roll in, a seven-day national mourning was declared by the Turkish authorities. Several accounts of inhabitants encountered along roads and paths, in these remote areas or on the edge of urban centers, reveal considerable damage in rural areas, with a significant number of municipalities which would have lost tens, even hundreds, of residents.

In Kiran Yurdu, the whole population helps and assists in the excavation activities, which seem to have never stopped since the first day. Two excavator-cranes are hard at work on either side of this small traditional village, located on the hillside between the sea and the Syrian neighbors. One of them belongs to a villager, the other to the town hall. “This is perhaps our only advantage compared to cities, we have the tools on site”, slips Ahmet, in his forties, his face marked by fatigue. A child of the village, he says he is the correspondent of the Anatolian Press, an old local public information network with an impressive network and still today a supplier of electoral databases. According to him, the village currently lists more than twenty dead. “But the numbers will quickly climb, the damage is considerable, the roofs have collapsed in a snap of the fingers. »

mutual aid

At the entrance to Kiran Yurdu, a body has just been pulled out of the rubble of a long, wide collapsed house, pulverized all along, in heaps of concrete and steel rods. It is wrapped in a blanket before being placed on the ground in front of a low wall still standing. At the foot of the crane, there are about ten of all ages forming a semi-circle, carefully scrutinizing each blow of the mechanical shovel. The other machine, that of the town hall, is activated near a family building, where, the day before, a woman could be saved. They would still be three under the rubble.

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