Turkish Anger Turns to Erdogan Over Quake Delays, Weak Buildings

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is facing mounting criticism from earthquake survivors and opposition parties over the country’s poor construction record and what they say has been an inadequate response to one of its worst natural disasters.

With the national death toll from Monday’s two massive tremors passing 18,500, critics say the government’s delay in sending cranes and other heavy machinery to lift slabs of concrete missed a critical window of opportunity to save people. Experts fear tens of thousands more people are buried under the rubble, meaning the number of fatalities is likely to keep rising.

Erdogan has conceded there were difficulties in dispatching urgent aid amid harsh winter conditions to all 10 affected provinces, though said Wednesday all available means to help had been mobilized. Yet accusations date back further, with claims the government failed to enforce quality rules during a construction boom that’s also contributing to the number of fatalities.

The criticism comes as Erdogan prepares for national elections in May, where he is seeking to extend his record two-decade rule — one marked by a surge in building hailed by the president as a key driver of economic growth. The capacity to rescue people and deliver aid to the disaster zone has swiftly become a top issue ahead of the vote, which Erdogan is working toward holding on schedule.

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