The Labourers’ International Union of North America in Eastern Canada has signalled it is ready, willing and able to assist the governments of Turkey and Syria in earthquake recovery efforts.
“It’s devastating news and our hearts weigh heavy for the lives lost and communities impacted by this heart-wrenching tragedy,” said Victoria Mancinelli, LIUNA director of marketing, about the widespread destruction caused by the magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 quakes that struck nine hours apart in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on Feb. 6. The death toll had reached over 33,185 as of Feb. 12.
Immediately after the disaster struck, LIUNA international vice-president Joseph Mancinelli and other LIUNA representatives were in contact with Turkish Consul General Sinem Mingan and Turkish ambassador Kerim Uras to offer condolences and extend an offer of support, said Victoria Mancinelli.
“LIUNA has a long-standing history in responding and aiding in natural disaster relief efforts,” said Victoria Mancinelli.
“We remain in contact to help efforts including ongoing financial support for both Turkey and Syria and have offered our support and partnership in any way that we may be able to provide throughout this time.”
Mancinelli said LIUNA is currently collecting information and establishing what more it can do to assist and awaits further direction. Currently the focus is on rescue and recovery, she said, and LIUNA will be working with various “boots-on-the-ground” organizations to provide support for urgent needs such as food, shelter and medical.
“When and if the time comes, we stand ready to help all efforts to welcome refugees,” she said. “Our door is open to provide training and skills development and community support.
“There will be a time to rebuild and we stand ready to assist.”
An Associated Press story said there are 35,000 Turkish personnel involved in rescue efforts. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said they were joined by 9,600 personnel from 74 countries, with more on the way.
EllisDon has also indicated it is prepared to assist efforts financially through a program called Building Vital Communities. The program matches employee donations to a registered charity or relief fund dollar-for-dollar up to $1,000 annually per employee.
International reports have indicated backhoes and bulldozers, typically employed in the early earth-moving stages of construction projects, are instead being used to clear debris and prepare cemeteries.
Chinese-based Zoomlion’s subordinate company based in Turkey immediately sent a rescue team consisting of professional service engineers and machine operators to the disaster area, taking electric blankets, emergency medicine, food and five sets of excavator equipment. The Zoomlion team was involved in rescuing four trapped citizens from a collapsed six-storey building in Hatay, Turkey.
As of Feb. 9, Zoomlion had sent 18 excavators to the disaster area.
A resident of Bursa, Turkey who has dual Turkish/Canadian citizenship and until recently worked as an electrical engineer in Canada said citizens are frustrated by widespread reports of corruption that led to building codes not being followed, exacerbating the destruction.
Following the earthquake of 1999, building codes were revised in 2007 and residential buildings should have been able to withstand the blow from the quake, the engineer said, but due to corruption and ill-advised waivers, buildings continued to be built in substandard fashion.
In the Erzin district of Hatay, there was very little damage, he noted.
“This shows good government oversight, dependable construction audits and a policy that says no to any shortcuts saves lives,” commented the engineer.
He is not being named for fear of repercussions on his safety.
Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said 131 people were under investigation for their alleged responsibility in the construction of buildings that failed to withstand the quakes, the Associated Press reported.