Turkey’s aid workers claim that the security situation in Turkey is worsening and they are unable to assist those who were affected by the earthquake.
Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed more than 24,600 people in Turkey, while another 3,500 were killed in Syria. It also brought down thousands of buildings.
For those still under rubble, hope is diminishing and frustration is growing for those who are trying to survive in freezing temperatures and dwindling food and medicine.
Two German rescue organisations have suspended rescue operations, and rescuers from Austrian Army also stopped working on Saturday due to safety concerns.
Germany’s International Search and Rescue (ISAR), sent an email to Reuters, saying that there are “increasing reports of clashes among different groups, and shots have been fired.”
Steven Bayer, ISAR operations manager, stated that the area was becoming more dangerous. This is a common occurrence in such situations.
He spoke at the Kirikhan camp for rescue workers and said that “that’s partly because food supply is running out and water supply is running out and then people go out looking for food and water.”
“The second is that the hope people once had is slowly fading. This can lead to anger.
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ISAR and Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief, (THW) have both stated that they will resume work as soon as the Turkish civil protection agency declares it safe.
Michael Bauer, Austria’s defense ministry spokesperson, said that the Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit had resumed work following the promise of the Turkish army to protect them.
In a statement, Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Kugelweis stated that there has been an “increasing aggression among groups in Turkey”.
He said that there were no attacks on the Austrians and they were all fine and in good spirits.
Switzerland stated that it is closely monitoring security conditions and has taken measures to protect its eight rescuers in Hatay Province.
Recep Tayyip Erdan, Turkey’s president, stated on Saturday that looting had occurred. However, he didn’t comment on reports of fighting.
He stated that a state of emergency had been declared. This means that anyone involved in looting and kidnapping will know that the state is there to help them.
Despite the difficulties, rescuers have some success.
Austria’s 82 rescue personnel saved nine people in Antakya (the ancient capital of Hatay), while Swiss rescuers saved 11 people, including two infants.
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More than 12 people were saved by rescuers from both local and international agencies on Saturday, including a Kahramanmaras family. Hatay saved a seven-year-old girl, while Gaziantep pulled a family of five from the rubble near the Syrian border.