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Earthquake deaths could have been prevented

Türkiye Earthquake Regions Map issued in 2018 by the Turkish Ministry of Interior Disaster and Emergency Management Authority.

TORONTO – The Turkish government has issued a Level 4 Alarm, which means an international call for help in addition to all nationwide efforts.

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The death toll is 3,400 and counting. People are freezing in the snow under the rubble. They are dying from the lack of help.

Citizens are reporting that search and rescue teams haven’t even reached certain areas with people under the wreckage.

“Your geography is your fate.” We say this in Türkiye a lot. It implies that if you are born in West Asia, you are doomed.

The location you are in the world determines your fate. I feel this tenfold today.

I am in Toronto, Canada while my country is literally collapsing. I get to keep breathing. This is not God’s grace or chance. It is a privilege. 

Why is it a privilege to stay alive?

It is not that Türkiye’s geography is cursed. Türkiye is an earthquake country – it always has been. So is Japan.

“The one who kills is not the earthquake, but the building.” We say this a lot too.

Contractors cheap out on the materials. The government disregards warnings from scientists.

Authorities eat the tax money reserved for natural disasters.

Istanbul was left under rubble by the 7.6 magnitude earthquake of August 17, 1999. The reported death toll was more than 17,000. 

On February 6, 2022 two earthquakes of 7.8 and 7.5 magnitudes happened at 4 a.m. and 1 p.m. near the city of Kahramanmaras, in the southern part of the country, near the Syrian border. Each earthquake brought with it aftershocks of smaller magnitudes. 

It is not Mother Nature who has killed and injured countless people. It is the people in power.

Bilge Güven is a Senior Correspondent with Youth Journalism International.

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