Search-and-rescue teams from Turkey and abroad working in 10 earthquake-hit provinces have accused the personnel of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) of taking credit for their efforts.
According to multiple reports, after other rescue teams finish almost all the work required to reach victims stuck under rubble, AFAD teams come and kick team out of the area to appear on television broadcasts in order to be credited as heroes.
The Taiwan rescue teams who left Turkey early this week have witnessed such actions. The Turkish authorities in Adıyaman province “politely draw away” the Taiwanese rescuers in order to grab credit and reputation, a translator working for the Taiwan rescue team told the China Times.
Such attempts were initially called out last week after a member of the German rescue team posted a video exposing the situation. The person speaking in the video said they had located an elderly man and a young woman alive under a collapsed staircase using a special camera, but AFAD workers arrived to undertake the rescue work afterwards.
In der Nacht konnte unser AFDRU-Team einen älteren Mann und eine junge Frau lebend aus einem eingestürzten Stiegenhaus retten. Mit einer Spezialkamera wurde ein Kind in einem Loch geortet. Diesen Einsatz haben türkischen Hilfkräfte übernommen; der Ausgang ist unklar. #Bundesheer pic.twitter.com/TS73K4VJCJ
— Michael Bauer (@Bundesheerbauer) February 9, 2023
AFAD teams’ efforts to take credit from others’ work seem to have increased whilst the media focused on rescue work for survivors miraculously still alive after the end of golden hours.
In another incident on Saturday, the search-and-recuse team of the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality protested AFAD for taking credit of their efforts to save a young woman in the Elbistan district of Adıyaman. The municipality team said that despite reports of people alive under the rubbled building, AFAD teams declined to come for rescue work. The state emergency response agency’s teams chose to arrive moments before the young woman was to be taken out from the wreckage. The police had to intervene to support the argument between the two rescue teams.
“Sadly, I share this information, I have heard it in many places. They say that we dig and dig, but at the moment we are to save a child, another team emerges telling us your work is done, and to go away and invite the cameras,” said Mehmet Akif Ersoy, a journalist of the Habertürk channel reporting from the earthquake on 10 February.
Rescue teams composed of Turkey’s miners, who are known for their efficiency and bravery in getting under collapsed buildings also raised the issue saying that AFAD took credit for their work.
AFAD was already under severe criticism for making other rescue teams wait long hours at airports or in other places, which caused many delays in reaching earthquake victims.
Attempts to appear on TV is not the only issue raised from rescue teams criticising Turkish authorities.
The Slovakian and Spanish teams decided to leave Turkey early this week protesting Turkish authorities which have started to use construction equipments that threaten the lives of people under rubbles.
“Using construction equipments means saving time. But such equipment can kill people. This means the death of lots of people,” a Spanish rescue worker said in a video before leaving Turkey.
İspanyol ekip: Türk hükümeti zaman kazanmak için iş makinaları kullanmaya başladı. Bu bir çok insanı öldürür. Biz bunun bir parçası olmayacağız dönüyoruz…
Mutlaka bir gerekçesi vardır.Hala sağ çıkanlar var.En altta olanlara ulaşmak çabası mi? @AFADBaskanlik pic.twitter.com/ZwegiUeZ9X
— Güven İslamoğlu (@guvenislamoglu) February 13, 2023