Reaction to halting of rescue operations and overhasty removal of rubble

Reaction to halting of rescue operations and overhasty removal of rubble
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"Why remove the rubble so soon? There may be survivors even on the tenth day," geophysical engineer Prof. Ercan has said.

While operations to remove the debris of buildings that collapsed in the earthquake in Turkey have started in sites where there is allegedly no sign of life under the remains, this move is premature according to many, including experts, who urge the Turkish authorities to consider that there may still be people alive trapped in the rubble.

Geophysical engineer Prof. Ovgun Ahmet Ercan said on Monday:

"Why remove the rubble so soon? There may be survivors even on the tenth day. People may still be alive, and it is possible that they are no longer able to call out because their vocal cords have been strained. They may be alive, yet motionless like the dead. Please do not dismember bodies, even if you think they are lifeless, while you're removing the rubble. This was a mistake done in Golcuk [the great earthquake of 1999]."

Daily Sozcu's Deniz Zeyrek said:

"What's the reason for this hurry? Let the people recover their lost ones, let them at least recover the bodies. Let them identify them. Let every one be sure that there is nobody alive or dead under the rubble."

Survivors begged the members of a team of volunteers not to leave when the team ended rescue operations at the site in a neighborhood of the southern border city of Antioch, T24 reported.

"There are still people inside, you're abandoning them to death," a survivor said to a team member, who replied:

"Don't you have any government official here? What kind of a city is this? Where are the officials? I came from Giresun [a city at the Black Sea coast]. How would anybody open that hole in the rubble if I weren't here? Where are the officials? I can't get it. As far as I can see, there are corpses under the rubble, waiting. I do not understand what they are waiting for?"

The authorities' decision to end rescue operations and start removal of debris at thousands of quake sites met with reactions not only in Turkey.

Comments of protest amassed under a video by Spanish state TV that interviewed rescuers returning from Turkey.

Pedro Frutos from a Spanish rescue team told RTVE that the government officials decided to send construction machines to sites and this means many people may be killed when operations with machines are launched. "We will not take part in that phase," he said.

"What hurts me is that there are still people alive under those collapsed buildings. Help us my God," one viewer said.

Some one else said:

"I can't believe the authorities don't wait a little longer, there may be people alive, very sad."

Legal concerns

The chair of the Union of Bar Associations (TBB) Erinc Sagkan said that it is not legal to remove the rubble without instructions from the prosecutors.

"The entire earthquake zone is a crime scene right now," Sagkan said. "The whole region is under the jurisdiction of public prosecutors. It is obvious that damaged buildings, particularly those that belong to the Environment Urbanization and Climate Change Ministry and local administrations, should not be pulled down, and the rubble of collapsed buildings be removed before evidence has been obtained. Removal of rubble without instructions from prosecutors will constitute an offense."