In the aftermath: Relief efforts in Türkiye after the disaster - M5 Dergi
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In the aftermath: Relief efforts in Türkiye after the disaster

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Aid rains in, and people have opened up their homes as Turks rally to offer a helping hand in the relief efforts following the two devastating earthquakes that took place last week

Türkiye suffered from two devastating 7.7 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes early Monday morning last week, leaving much of the 10 affected provinces in ruins and a state of emergency. Ever since the first quake hit Pazarcık in the province of Kahramanmaraş, which neighbors the province of Gaziantep, followed by another massive earthquake in Kahramanmaraş’s Elbistan, thousands of buildings have collapsed, leaving tens of thousands trapped under rubble.

It also hit northern Syria, killing thousands and causing widespread devastation. In Türkiye, in addition to Gaziantep and Kahramanmaraş, the quakes’ destruction also spanned areas in Adana, Adıyaman, Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Şanlıurfa.

Late Sunday, the death toll had reached over 24,600, while over 80,00 remain injured. There’s no telling yet how many people are missing, but 121 people were pulled out alive from the rubble yesterday, and rescues continued well into the 100th hour of the natural disaster. The entire country is also observing seven days of mourning for the earthquake victims.

The fact that the first quake took place at around 4 a.m. means most people were asleep in their homes in multistory buildings, with many up to 10 stories high. The buildings that weren’t destroyed in the quakes remain but must be inspected before they are deemed safe. This means that in addition to the terrifying death toll, an alarming number of people are displaced. Add the fact that temperatures are below freezing, and you get the picture that the scenario is overwhelmingly sad.

On television, regular live broadcasts depict heroic rescue scenes from the demolition. Many restaurants and entertainment venues have closed for at least a week to either observe the mourning of the victims lost or because these business owners are actively involved in relief efforts. Suppose there is anything good to say about this experience. In that case, it is that, once again, Turks have rallied together to collect aid, organize shelters, and go to the region to volunteer efforts. This mobilization among the Turks happens following almost every earthquake and wildfire.

Stronger together

In Türkiye, everyone does what they can in times of disaster. For better or worse, many people have just jumped in their cars to head to the region to help or to disburse aid, but due to the high number of emergency staff, said to be over 120,000 and from 75 different countries, there is a discourse that the roads and limited access and unorganized distribution of aid could hamper rescue efforts. In addition, there are concerns regarding obtaining gasoline, boxed goods of winter wear getting wet and so forth. This is why it is critical to supply donations to official organizations, which are being arranged by pretty much every municipality in the country.

Many municipalities and local organizations are providing a list of needed items. They are requesting these items be separated into categories, such as women’s, men’s and children’s clothing. Due to the weather conditions, it is also advised that clothing and anything that could be damaged from getting wet be put into plastic bags. Those coordinating relief efforts suggest that the boxes filled be fitted with a plastic bag first to ensure the integrity of the aid being provided.

While many citizens all over the country continue to go to the region to help, others are volunteering their time at collection centers and procuring the goods necessitated in the area. This week, I have seen a lot of the hustle and bustle in collection centers in Bodrum, Akyaka and Dalyan, to name just a few. Television imagery depicted a line of hundreds of volunteers in Istanbul passing goods to one another in a chain of aid to get the goods provided to the point from where they will be delivered.

Cargo companies such as Yürtiçi Kargo deliver donations for free, and online shopping platforms such as Morhipo are doing the same. Migros also sends items purchased for assistance free of charge to the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). The AFAD, Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay), and nongovernmental organization (NGO) Ahbap are organizations receiving direct deposits for relief aid. Meanwhile, countless hotels have opened their rooms and services to earthquake victims. Pegasus has announced the offering of free flights from the region. Social media has become a messaging platform for available spaces in returning vehicles.

Online operations

Several organizations are operating active websites on how to help and get help.

The Deprem Imece Platform at has options to report people trapped in buildings and those needing food and warm shelter. It also has a section where people can register as heavy machinery operators, offering shelter space in their vehicles or homes. This website has a list of people trapped and the addresses they are located at. It also provides a search engine that updates rescue and relief efforts in surrounding villages.

Afet Haritası and İhtiyaç Haritası are websites providing shelter points, and, which is a website where people can donate rent or offer space in their homes. and are websites where people can provide accommodation space to earthquake victims. also has a list of hotels offering rooms all over the country.

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