Tuesday marks one year since the devastating earthquake in Turkey.
One year after the devastating earthquake that ravaged large swathes of southern and central Turkey, many of the disaster’s survivors are still living in temporary accommodation, like shipping containers and tents.
The 7.8 magnitude quake that struck in the early hours of 6 February last year was modern Turkey’s deadliest killing more than 53,000 people in the country and nearly 6,000 in neighbouring Syria. Millions more were left homeless.
In Antioch, the hardest hit city, 90% of its buildings were destroyed. People still living there are still grieving deceased family and friends, struggling to rebuild livelihoods and grasping for closure in cases where loved ones are still missing. Unemployment is rampant.
Survivors are still waiting for the help promised by the government.
Kamil Ezer, an Antioch lorry driver, is one of them. He has been living in his truck since the earthquake struck.
“The state didn’t explain anything to us, they just razed it, we have no information, they told us they were going to offer us an apartment, when, how, we don’t know,” he told Euronews.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pledged to deliver some 319,000 new homes by next month, ahead of key local elections in March. His promise to rebuild quickly helped him get reelected last May despite widespread anger at the government’s initial slow response to the earthquake.
Economic strains are evident now that a third of the residents and tourists, once so vital, have vanished.
The authorities want to start by rebuilding businesses to bring the population back – but without the proper infrastructure in place, it seems impossible to succeed.
Orhan Ozturk reopened his small gold shop two weeks ago after the rubble out front was cleared, yet he hasn’t had many customers.
“We have thought about (leaving) but where would we go? This is our homeland,” he said.
The Red Cross says hundreds of thousands of people in the quake zone who lost their source of income are still relying on support. “The road to rebuilding and recovery is long, requiring sustained international support,” said Jesse Thomson, who leads the relief agency in Turkey.
Cevdet Donmez, 30, was lucky enough to get a container home from the government, but his job as a window installer is gone. To support his mother, wife and three children, Donmez got a job removing furniture from damaged buildings earmarked for demolition.
“We are in a bad situation,” he said. “We lost everything suddenly. How will we be able to recover? How can we provide a good future for the children? I don’t know.”
Emre Ceylan lost nine family members in the quake, and his barbershop was destroyed. He recently purchased a container and transformed it into a barbershop, which he’s eager to open as soon as he can get electricity installed.
“We didn’t realise how good our lives were,” he said, “ until the earthquake took everything away from us.”