On-the-spot report from earthquake-hit region in Turkey

A World Socialist Web Site correspondent reports from the earthquake-hit Çukorova district of Adana.

The massive earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have led to a social catastrophe caused by the capitalist system. As of yesterday, the death toll in Turkey exceeds 29,000, while over 5,000 have died in Syria.

Cranes remove debris next to destroyed buildings in Antakya, south-central Turkey, Friday, February 10, 2023. [AP Photo/Hussein Malla]

Many people living in the affected area blame not the “natural disaster” for the deaths and destruction, but the capitalists who, in their greed for profit, build buildings that do not comply with earthquake regulations and the authorities who turn a blind eye to this. On the other hand, there is massive solidarity within the working class.

In the Çukurova district of Adana, it was seen that poor quality materials were used in the collapsed or damaged apartment buildings, and safety regulations were not followed. In Adana, where 13 buildings collapsed, 378 people lost their lives and only 33 people have been rescued so far.

Despite official reports and scientific warnings of massive destruction in the event of an earthquake, the Turkish government took no action. After the earthquake, thousands of people who could have been saved instead died because of the inadequate and late response of state authorities. There is enormous anger at the political establishment and corporations.

The ruling class once again seeks to deflect anger and direct it at the refugees. In particular, the mostly untrue reports of theft, which criminalize Syrians, try to shift the target of anger from the government and the capitalist system as a whole to the innocent earthquake victims.

A public-sector laborer from Hatay said that he thought he was living in an earthquake-proof apartment, but it was badly damaged in the earthquake. He and his wife barely escaped from the damaged house. After a long struggle with hunger, thirst, cold, broken roads and fuel shortages, they reached Adana, 200 kilometers away.

“Don’t believe the news; the situation is much worse than what is shown on TV. The death toll is much higher,” said a customs worker from Hatay.

A health worker from Kahramanmaraş echoed the same sentiments.

Thousands of volunteers are operating in the region, alongside search and rescue teams from across the country and other countries. Volunteers are giving assistance to search and rescue efforts, distributing relief supplies and food, and sharing news and lists of needs on social media. Many people are opening their homes to earthquake victims. Millions of people in the country and around the world have shown very strong solidarity.

Many earthquake victims say they believe that only a few building contractors will be victimized, that the vast majority of criminals within the state will be spared, and that justice will not be served, as it was in the aftermath of the 1999 Marmara earthquake, which claimed nearly 18,000 lives. Trust in the bourgeois order has been severely shaken.

The widespread solidarity of the working class against the indifference of the bourgeoisie that led to this massacre has once again proved that the real division in society is class-based. It is up to the international working class armed with a socialist program to put an end to capitalism so that justice is served and such disasters are completely prevented in Turkey and the rest of the world.