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Three months after the earthquake, there is still a major rubble problem in Turkey

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There are a lot of them and their disposal creates significant health and environmental risks

Turkey and Syria were hit, on February 6, by a very serious earthquake that killed nearly 60,000 people: identified by the World Health Organization «The worst natural disaster»From the last century throughout the European region. Since then, relief efforts have continued unabated, further hampered by the cold and civil war in Syria. Almost three months after that devastating earthquake, today one of the major problems is about managing the huge amount of rubble, which is causing great inconvenience and potential environmental and health hazards.

The earthquake last February caused many buildings to collapse, and entire neighborhoods were flattened. Tens of thousands of other buildings, badly damaged by the earthquake, are currently being demolished. According to United Nations estimates, the quake created up to 210 million tons of rubble: enough to cover the entirety of Washington, D.C. or to build a hill as high as Erciyes Mountain, a volcano in Turkey’s Cappadocia region that is about as high as 100,000 tons. nearly 3 thousand meters, he wrote the Scientific American.

Rubble announcement AntiochIn southeastern Türkiye (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

One of the most complex issues when an earthquake strikes is debris management. always be Scientific American He explained that if it is not carefully planned and then managed, with appropriate procedures, protocols and standards for both operators and those who live in the areas concerned, managing debris can be risky from a health and environmental point of view, with the potential for poisoning of people and contamination of water and soil.

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Part of these problems was at the heart of the unrest and protests in the various regions hit by the earthquake last February for weeks. the Washington Post he have Tell In Samandağ, in southern Turkey and very close to the border with Syria, and other areas in the southern province of Hatay, where about 20 debris dumps have already been established.

In Samandağ, the traffic of trucks carrying rubble is continuous and continuous, with mountains of cement, concrete, steel, clothes, blankets, bicycles and household appliances piling up in different parts of the city (under normal circumstances, for example, household appliances such as batteries are considered special waste, they must be treated separately). At the moment, rubble and waste are mainly piling up in a huge landfill near the sea, not far from the tent city for people who lost their homes in the earthquake and from the bird sanctuary.

Residents of the area and some environmental activist groups fear that toxic materials, including for example asbestos fibres, could rise from piles of rubble and waste. In other cases, it is feared that the piles of rubble are unsafe and too close to the tent cities set up for the displaced. In general, according to people who have already organized some protests, the management of the debris violates many regulations on the disposal of debris.

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Mehmet Emin Birpınar, Turkey’s deputy minister of environment, urbanization and climate change, said the government’s policies of rubble disposal and demolition meet all standards and precautions are being taken to mitigate damage reported by residents and activists. Perpınar pointed to air quality monitoring in the affected areas, adding that no traces of asbestos have been found so far, and irregular irrigation of the hills to prevent dust from kicking in.

But the fact that so much dust rises from the heaps is a fact widely deplored by many people who live in that area: in the tent city erected near the heap of rubble in Samandağ, the inhabitants did complain of burning eyes, and the manager of a fish restaurant there abandoned his neighbour. About reopening precisely because of the clouds of dust coming from the landfill.

In general, the administration of current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been widely criticized for its handling of the earthquake and its unwillingness to acknowledge its shortcomings in this matter. Over the past few weeks, media and journalists who have criticized the government and documented the aftermath have been intimidated, fines have been imposed, and a journalist who has interviewed and photographed people complaining of a lack of help has been arrested with those accused of spreading disinformation.

Protests have also been added in order to manage and join the rubble due to the devastating consequences of the earthquake, according to many due to non-compliance with a series of anti-seismic standards in the construction of buildings: precisely with this type of accusation, in Turkey currently hundreds of people are being investigated.

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– Also read: Erdogan’s biggest opponent

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