Turkey earthquake: police fire tear gas at protesters

Riot police used tear gas and batons against locals frustrated with the earthquake relief efforts.

Police in Van, eastern Turkey, used batons and fired tear gas at crowds demonstrating against the state's response to the recent devastating earthquakes in the largely Kurdish region.

Last month, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake destroyed thousands of buildings, killing over 600 people. On Wednesday evening a second quake of 5.6 magnitude in the same area killed at least 13 people, though the death toll is expected to rise. Rescue teams have since recovered 28 survivors from the wreckage, but anger has grown among locals at the pace of the government's response and a lack of supplies for those made homeless by the disaster.

Two hundred people demonstrating in central Van called for the resignation of the provincial governor, and were met by riot police using batons and tear gas to disperse the rally.

A local man, Abdulrahim Kaplan, had gone to the crisis centre for a tent when police confronted the protesters. He said to Reuters:

How can you fire pepper spray on people who have already suffered so much? Our people are freezing. We are sleeping outside -- all seven of my family ... Some people take five tents, some 10 and others get nothing. This is wrong.

Makeshift camps on the outskirts of the city are housing thousands of people whose homes were destroyed by the 23 October earthquake. Turkey's deputy prime minister, Beşir Atalay, told the media there was "enough place for everybody who wants to stay at the tent city."

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.