More than 10,000 people gathered early on Tuesday to hold a vigil for the first anniversary of the devastating earthquakes that hit southeastern Turkey, as some protested against what they called government negligence in the aftermath.
The magnitude 7.8 tremor, the deadliest disaster in Turkey’s modern history, levelled towns and parts of cities in the country’s southeast and neighboring Syria. It killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey, some 5,900 in Syria, and left millions homeless.
In the southeastern Turkish province of Hatay, the country’s worst-hit, people called for the government and local authorities to resign during the vigil, and demanded that officials do not present themselves at the memorial, while booing speeches.
In the main square of the city of Hatay, located in the province, some chanted, “Can anybody hear my voice?” as Health Minister Fahrettin Koca spoke, a slogan referring to calls heard from under the rubble as people waited for days for help to arrive. Residents say many people died not because of the buildings collapsing, but rather from waiting for so long trapped in the rubble in the cold.