Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that Turkey was much more prepared to deal with natural disasters now than in the years gone by, thanks to the latest works of Disaster & Emergency Management Presidency, which was formed in 2009, Anadolu agency reported.
Erdogan, speaking at a promotion of "schools ready for disaster" campaign in Istanbul, cited the two earthquakes that struck in the northwest of Turkey in 1999, which left over 18,000 people dead and 49,000 injured, "We, as Turkey were unprepared against [natural disasters]. Governmental officials only went to the quake region after two days."
However, due to the formation of the Disaster & Emergency Management Presidency, the government and services were able to respond to the 2011 quake that hit Van much more rapidly and were able to rebuild areas within a year, Erdogan added.
The prime minister also underlined the importance of the durability of school buildings and raising awareness amongst students and teachers about natural disasters.
The Disaster & Emergency Management Presidency, which collaborates with other government ministries and organizations, does not only respond to the disasters in Turkey, but has also lent its support to other countries such as Haiti and Japan. Erdogan also praised the quality of the camps set up by the Disaster & Emergency Management Presidency to house refugees from Syria.
During his speech, Erdogan extended his condolences to the Afghan people, adding that Turkish Red Crescent was among the first aid agencies that had arrived at the disaster zone. More than 2,000 people are believed to have died in a massive landslide that consumed a village in the province of Badakhshan. Erdogan stated that the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency had also sent food aid to those affected by the natural disaster in Badakhshan.
Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay at the campaign's promotional event stressed the importance of taking precautions. "We don't want to see people lose their lives because of unplanned urbanization, incautiousness and lack of education and also do not want the disasters to hinder our developing country."