1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Photographs by
Alfred Yaghobzadeh
26th AUGUST 1999

Turkey is burying its dead and sheltering its survivors a week after the earthquake which shook the thickly populated northwest region of the country. The quake which measured a disastrous 7.8 on the Richter scale hit the region at 3:02am on 17th August while most people were sleeping.

The death toll has approached 12,000 with thousands believed to be still buried beneath the rubble of their collapsed homes. Sergio Piazzi, United nations European region chief for humanitarian affairs, estimated that 40,000 may have been killed.

For fear of more aftershocks and of half destroyed buildings collapsing entirely many people are sleeping in the open.

"So great is the damage", writes James Dalrymple in the

London Independent, "that four major towns- Yalova. Golucuk, Izmit and Adapazari- may have been razed. Not a single house in a chain of communities stretching from Istanbul to Adapazari is safe to occupy."

At a 500-tent city near Izmit, a charitable organization is managing to serve three meals a day to 1,200 people, including many recently orphaned children. Newly dug graves on a hill above the ruined city of Adapazari are sprinkled with quicklime against the spread of disease and the city's railway station and soccer stadium are being used for hospital space.

Amongst the sorrow and despair there is also anger. Public anger is rising against the government for their failure to prepare against earthquakes and to regulate the building trade. Contractors have put up flimsy buildings to cut costs and building inspectors have let them get away with it.