TABANLI, Turkey - Hundreds of people in the town of Arjish, the area hardest hit by the earthquake which struck eastern Turkey earlier this week, yesterday looted supply trucks. They said they had been waiting too long for tents and supplies.
"Already on the first night we started setting up tents for people who lost their homes, but most of them want to put up a tent near their ruined houses to protect their things from looters," said a government official in the Van province.
A man who took part in plundering a truck said, "I had no choice. I came two days ago from my village to bring food to my family and to other families and I've been waiting to get something to take to them."
The authorities say they have already brought 25,000 tents to the area struck by the quake but these were far from sufficient. The shortage of tents, coupled with the approaching winter, led Turkey to ask 30 states, including Israel, for mobile homes.
The first airplane sent by Israel's Defense Ministry left Ben Gurion Airport yesterday with a cargo of mobile homes, coats, blankets and mattresses. Due to its size the plane landed in Ankara, from where the mobile homes will be transported to Arjish. The ministry is planning two more flights and a freight ship to Turkey in the next few days.
Rescue workers in Arjish continued to search for survivors near about 100 houses that had collapsed in the tremor.
Yesterday, three days after the earthquake, they rescued three people who had been trapped under the debris. But for the most part, they find bodies. The official death toll is around 500, but hundreds are still missing.
In the little villages in Van province people complained that no rescue workers arrived at all.
In Tabanli village, the closest community to the quake hub, about a third of the buildings collapsed. Villagers said they had to dig in the ground with their bare hands in a bid to save people trapped under the debris. So far they have received only three tents to house people in, they said.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan admitted yesterday "a number of failures had occurred." But he promised the shortages had been rectified.
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