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Pressure is growing on President Erdogan as he visits earthquake areas

origin 1Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a survivor embrace as he visits the city center destroyed by Monday’s earthquake in Kahramanmaras, southern Turkey, ©AP/Turkish Presidency

Three days after two devastating earthquakes devastated large swathes of his country, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has paid a difficult visit to some of the hardest-hit areas.

Erdogan inspected an apocalyptic landscape in the southern city of Gaziantep on Thursday, before confirming that the death toll had risen to nearly 17,000 and announcing new economic measures to help the victims.

“While the damage assessment is underway, in this moment of transition we will reward our citizens with economic aid of 10,000 lira (494 euros),” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey. “With this kind of support, we want to at least ease their problems a little bit,” he added.

With just three months to go before the presidential election and amid growing criticism of his handling of the disaster, Erdogan on Wednesday acknowledged “deficiencies” in the government’s response.

Courage and desperation at the epicenter of the devastating earthquake in Turkey

Many people were forced to seek their own food and shelter, while others watched helplessly as family members could not be rescued from beneath the rubble.

I am a mother, my heart can only take so much pain. But no one is listening

“We, as civilians, support these people, but I’m not a crane, I can’t lift these concrete blocks. Where is the army? Where is the state? Where is unity? Where is solidarity ?” said a resident of Adiyaman in southeast Turkey.

Turkey’s main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said government corruption in the construction sector had exacerbated the tragedy and accused Erdogan of failing to meet building safety standards.

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