Opinion

Turkish government misled citizens about earthquake

U.S. Geological Survey map showing the impact of the Oct. 30 earthquake just off the Turkish coast.

ISTANBUL – Even though there are almost 293 miles between İzmir and İstanbul, some people from İstanbul felt the effects the big earthquake last Friday.

The first reports from the government said it was a 6.6 magnitude quake that claimed a few victims and collapsed a few buildings. Three days afterward, we learned from local newspapers that there were 83 victims and 58 severely damaged buildings.

The death toll is now at 111, according to Turkish newspapers.

U.S. Geological Survey

This means the government wasn’t honest with us. As if these lies weren’t enough, we also learned from outside sources that the magnitude of the earthquake was 7.0.

The reason why the government would lie in a national emergency like this is still a mystery. But as a community, all of us are trying to help with all the resources we have.

Even street dogs are finding survivors under collapsed buildings.

Turkey was shaken by the story of a miracle survivor, a three-year-old girl named Elif. She was saved from a collapsed building after 65 hours without food or water and not enough oxygen.

When emergency workers carried Elif out of the collapsed building, she held the finger of the firefighter who saved her. She didn’t let go of his finger until they arrived at the ambulance.

The image of this scene made all of Turkey weep.

Unfortunately, Elif isn’t the only who has suffered. There are lots of bodies still being uncovered, some of them still clinging to each other in their last moments.

All of this brings us back to the main problem of the government. Even though it has always been known that İzmir was in the risky part of the country for earthquakes, questions remain.

Why weren’t the buildings checked properly and why weren’t public gathering places established for citizens to meet in the event of an earthquake?

It has hardly been a year since Istanbul suffered its own 5.7 earthquake with the same problems – citizens not knowing what to do or where to gather.

I speak from personal experience. When the earthquake hit Istanbul last year, my public school evacuated by opening its doors and letting all the students run, without any order, to the garden. It was irresponsible and scary.

The truth is plain and simple. Turkey isn’t ready for an earthquake and will suffer more death and sorrow if we don’t get enough precautions or teach kids, teens and adults what to do and how to protect ourselves and each other if, God forbid, this happens again soon.

Lina Köksal is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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