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panorama : Turkey surprises with efficient aid

So it works after all: In the Turkish earthquake region, helpers stamped entire tent cities out of the ground on Monday; The Red Crescent aid organization distributed warm meals to the freezing people from several field kitchens; Tens of thousands of blankets and thousands of stoves were brought into the disaster area. During the night everyone will have a makeshift roof over their heads and a warm meal in their stomach, promised the Red Crescent.

That was also urgently needed: At temperatures of up to seven degrees below zero, many people spent the night around campfires on the streets. Drinking water and milk for the children were available, however, and almost everyone already owned at least one of the striped woolen blankets of the Red Crescent. By the afternoon, more than 10,000 blankets had been delivered, 3,000 house tents had been erected and 2,500 heating stoves had been provided, and the crisis team in Ankara had sent more and more supplies.

Once again, the Turkish state does not want to expose itself to the popular anger it aroused in the 1999 earthquake in the Marmara region. The rapid and efficient relief operation in Afyon stands in striking contrast to the delayed and chaotic reaction from back then. "Where's the state?" Shouted angry demonstrators there and booed the president. The smooth crisis management in Afyon shows that public pressure can make a difference even in authoritarian Turkey.

But better crisis management is not enough, as the head of the Turkish earthquake control, Ahmet Mete Isikara, has now emphasized again. The 44 people who were killed by collapsing houses in Afyon will no longer benefit from the best relief efforts - as will the 20,000 victims of the devastating earthquake of 1999. "If we had acted in time, if we had built earthquake-proof, if we had trained ourselves , then these people could still be alive, "said Isikara. For years he has been pleading with his compatriots to finally face the facts: "Turkey must be rebuilt." Almost the entire country is at risk of earthquakes, but as in Afyon, low-quality concrete, adobe bricks and sandy soil are used everywhere.

And it is by no means just to blame for the state. Its citizens are only too happy to build their little houses black, bribe the building authorities and otherwise close both eyes to the danger. According to surveys, two thirds of Turks expect that they will be caught by the earthquake sooner or later - but just 1.5 percent have at least secured their place to sleep. Hardly anyone has actually acquired the earthquake insurance that has been required by law for two years. Instead, many Turks rely on higher protection: the Istanbul grave of a saint, who is said to be able to protect against earthquakes, experiences a rush of visitors after every quake.

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