After the earthquake disaster of 17th August 1999, only now we are able to provide you some information, because we were there at the earthquake sites trying to help people as much as we could. As you probably receive sufficient news about the general situation, we would like to touch some other points.
The earthquake occurred on 17th August 1999 at 03.02 AM with the Richter scale 7.4. As most majority of people were sleeping in that time, only very few people could escape from the collapsed buildings. Although the epicentre of the earthquake was very close to Istanbul (about 130 km east of Istanbul), only a few neighbourhoods have collapsed in Istanbul. This actual disaster in cities like Izmit, Sakarya, Goelcuek and Yalova. Surrounding cities like Bursa, Bolu, Duzce, Eskisehir and Zongolduk (? wasn't readable on the fax) were also partially effected from the earthquake. Comrades, there are many unbearable aspects of this disaster, and we do not really know where to start from.
In most places the rescue works have started only on the 3 day, hence very late. So until the third day, it was people themselves, who were trying to rescue their relatives under the ruins. But the efficiency of this work was very limited, because you could not do much with bare hands. Almost from every collapsed building you could hear the injured people crying to be rescued. Unfortunately only very few of these people were rescued and most majority of them died due to the delayed rescue works. As we told you, the actual rescue works have started only on the third day of the earthquake, most of these works were carried out by volunteers and foreign rescue teams. All kind of state forces were absolutely useless, not even able to provide water and food for the survivors. We should say, that the Turkish state mechanism has proved to be completely useless. The state mechanism was not only very late to start the rescue works, but it was also a big obstacle and it created big difficulties for the local volunteers as well as for foreign rescue teams.
Following examples will give you a clear idea about the attitude of the state: Armenian Special Rescue team who applied to Turkish Foreign Ministry was not allowed to come to Turkey, the blood collected in Greece has not been accepted by the Turkish Ministry of Health on the pretext that it would spoil the glorious Turkish blood. The Chinese Special Rescue Team was kept waiting on Istanbul airport for more than 8 hours, health care materials, tents and other equipments were all subjected to customs tax, for the each dog of foreign Special Rescue teams $10 was charged at the customs gates! So you can easily imagine the rest of the activities of such a logic.
The aid mechanism also started to function very late. Most of the survivors, approximately 300.000 people, had no form of shelter and food supply until two days ago. The survivors try to live on the aid provided by the people from other regions. Due to the absence of coordination, in many places the aid could not reach to the people and it was simply thrown to the garbage.
The inventory of the disaster is another questionable issue, according to the latest official figures, 15.000(? not readable) people have died, 40.000 people are injured and approx. 30.000 people are still under the ruins. However these figures can not be counted correct because in many places people have taken out their dead relatives from the ruins and buried them with their own opportunities without giving any notice to the state. Therefore, the above figures represent only those who have been informed to the state mechanism.
We still could not find out if any of the anarchist comrades have died or not. The ones we know in the earthquake sites are all alive. We still could not hear anything from a couple of comrades in Izmit. We are trying to get hold of them somehow. On the other hand, there were many anarchists and readers of our publications who lived in the earthquake sites we did not personally know. Only in the forthcoming we will learn about such friends.
For the moment we do not need much help. All the earthquake sites now receive sufficient food and health care material (not from the state of course but from the people). Any additional aid will either go to the garbage or to the depots of the army. It is important that our foreign comrades should not send any aid through the state mechanism. A few weeks later when all crocodile tears are over, the actual portrait will start to emerge. As the winter is approaching, we will try to find out the people who need the real help. So, in those forthcoming days, we will ask for the help of our abroad comrades if it is necessary. We will also write a more detailed commentary and send it to you in a near future including some concrete demands.
Till then, very best regards from all of us to all of you
Ates Hirsizi + Kaos Yayinlari Istanbul, Turkey
Address: Piyerloti Cad. Dostlukyurdu Sok. Selimbey Apt. No 8 (Bodnum...? - is not readable, but it will reach them without it as well!) Cemberlitas, Istanbul, Turkey Tel./Fax. ++212-518 25 62