Curing senders and receivers
A 7.2-MAGNITUDE earthquake struck the largely Kurdish eastern Van region of Turkey on Sunday, killing 360. Because of low local housing standards, the toll is likely to be higher. Turkey is one of the world's most active seismic zones, crossed by numerous fault lines, and Lake Van is the country's most earthquake-prone region. Tremors reached as far as the Armenian capital Yerevan, though no damage was reported. Worst-hit was Ercis near the Iranian border where 80 high-rise buildings collapsed. Mobile phones saved the lives of many people trapped in rubble. Survivors were being rescued up to 48 hours after the quake.
Though Van is not a centre of Kurdish rebel fighters, the quake follows shortly after up to 30 Turkish soldiers were killed by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters in Hakkari to the southeast, prompting Turkey's unprecedented incursion into northern Iraq in pursuit of the PKK. It will fall on Turkish and local Kurdish leaders to respond to the natural disaster, showing the danger to locals of relying on the illegal PKK with its extremist demands for any substantial help. The quake will have repercussions in Turkish political life, putting nationalist squabbles into perspective. Stating it could heal its wounds itself, Turkey rejected an offer by Israel for on-the-ground assistance, but did accept help from neighbours Azerbaijan, Iran and Bulgaria.
Bulent Korucu in Zaman wrote, "the earthquake has shown once again that we can unite. The aid sent from every corner of the country cures first all the wounds of the heart before curing the wounds in the arm. It cures both the senders and receivers." Mehmet Ali Birand wrote in Posta, "We should defeat the PKK through this approach -- this would be much more effective than weapons."