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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Turkey still refusing earthquake help (updated)

From Reuters:
Turkey is much better placed to deal with its latest earthquake since overhauling its emergency operations in the past decade, but international experts questioned on Monday its decision to rebuff many outside offers of help.

The country has plenty of experience in dealing with earthquakes after living through a "seismic storm" over the past century, but that hasn't always translated into prompt relief.

Disaster response has much improved since a 7.6 magnitude quake in the Western city of Izmit killed 17,000 people in 1999.

Nevertheless, experts said the region's rising economic power still lagged the level of organization seen, for example, in Japan -- raising questions about Ankara's rejection of foreign help after Sunday's 7.2 magnitude quake in southeastern Turkey.

"It would be better to accept all the help you can get," said Matthew Free, immediate past chairman of the Institution of Structural Engineers' earthquake field investigation team, who helped after the Izmit quake. "It's not a good time to be proud ... saving lives is the top priority."

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who flew to Van in southeast Turkey to assess the damage from the Ercis quake, said the country could cope by itself.

He declined offers of help from, among others, the United States, Britain and Germany, as well as neighboring Israel and Armenia, which both have strained relations with Ankara. Turkey has accepted help only from Iran, Azerbaijan and Bulgaria.
How many lives could have been, and still could be, saved?

While it does not appear that Turkey is singling out Israel in refusing aid, it is acting irresponsibly with the lives of its citizens.

UPDATE: Turkey is now asking for equipment from Israel and other countries.