Turkish president: It is impossible to prepare for a disaster this big

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits the disaster zone in his country as criticism grows over the official response

Turkey‘s president has hit back at mounting anger over the state’s response, saying: “It is not possible to be prepared for a disaster this big.”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters the official death toll had climbed to 9,057 during a visit to Hatay, one of the region’s hardest hit by the earthquake.

He described people saying they hadn’t seen security forces at all in some areas as “provocateurs”.

“This is a time for unity, solidarity. In a period like this, I cannot stomach people conducting negative campaigns for political interest,” he added.

During another stop on his tour of areas in the disaster zone earlier today, he acknowledged some initial problems but said the situation was now “under control”.

Criticism from opposition figures and on the ground is growing. Some claim that emergency efforts have been too slow and that not enough was done to prepare the earthquake-prone region during his eight years in office.

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