Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked “forgiveness” on Monday to the inhabitants of the province of Adiyaman (Southeast), one of the most affected by the devastating earthquake of February 6, for delays in the arrival of relief.
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“Due to the devastating effect of the tremors and bad weather, we weren’t able to work the way we wanted in Adiyaman for the first few days. I ask forgiveness for this”, declared the head of the Turkish state.
Mr Erdogan was speaking from the city of Adiyaman, three weeks after the earthquake which killed more than 44,000 people in Turkey and also affected neighboring Syria.
The Turkish president, in power for twenty years and who wishes to remain in office during the elections scheduled for May 14, has come under strong criticism from survivors who blame the state for the slowness of relief.
Four days after the disaster, Mr. Erdogan had sketched a form of mea culpa, already in Adiyaman, without however asking for forgiveness.
“The destruction affected so many buildings (…) that, unfortunately, we were unable to carry out our interventions as quickly as hoped,” he said at the time.
He also acknowledged “gaps” in the response to the earthquake, adding that it is “impossible to be prepared for such a disaster”.
In this province and that of Hatay, also very affected, survivors expressed their anger to AFP a few days after the natural disaster.
One of them, Mehmet Yildirim, assured on February 10 that he had seen “no one”, “no state, no police, no soldiers” before “2 p.m. on the second day of the earthquake”, i.e. 34 hours. after the first shock.
He had accused the authorities of having left the population “on their own” in the province of Adiyaman.
This weekend, it was football supporters from Istanbul clubs who also shouted their discontent in the stadiums, calling for the resignation of the government.
On Monday, the Turkish president promised the construction of nearly 50,000 new homes in this province of Adiyaman out of a total of 309,000 that should come out of the ground in the eleven provinces affected by the earthquake.