Türkiye Earthquake
Roger Bara

I’m a Brit living on the east coast of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Early Monday morning, at exactly 3.17am local time, I was awoken by my bed moving rapidly from side to side. 

I immediately knew what I was experiencing, but this went on far longer than any other tremor in my memory over the past decade. The lampshades were swinging violently from the ceilings, but at no time did I consider the potential carnage that was taking place just 300kms to the north-east of my island. I rather assumed that the quake was deep beneath the Mediterranean somewhere and my biggest concern, as I live on a beachside resort, was the possibility of a tsunami.

Within hours, I realised how wrong I was. And as I write this, some four days after the initial quake,  there is a smidge of good happening, but the bad just keeps on getting worse. More cruel, more merciless.

Let me start with the tiny amount of good that is happening. My island is divided. Greek Cypriots to the south, and Turkish Cypriots to the north. Our recent history is extremely bloody, full of malice, spite and vindictiveness between the two sides. I wouldn’t dream of going into the rights and wrongs of both sides at this most heart-breaking of moments.


But just look at this image doing the rounds on social media right now. What’s so moving about this is that this poor youngster, maybe now an orphan, with a Turkish flag on her clothing, being comforted by a Greek rescue worker. I know without doubt that there is not one iota of the man’s DNA that is questioning the nationality of the victim. His only thought is to get the youngster to safety. No more, no less. No politicians or radical extremists to interfere with the process.

The bad is almost too forbidding to contemplate. We have learned that already, 32 TRNC citizens have not survived, including several students, a squad of young boys and girls away in Southern Turkey for a volleyball tournament. Many more and missing, and as every hour passes, the chances of survival weaken considerably. Already, some bodies have been brought home to North Cyprus, and there have been unprecedented scenes of massive crowds outside the mosque in Famagusta, from where the children originated.

More bad – a saw a tweet from a Greek (or Greek Cypriot) with just one word: “Karma”. 

But I’ll finish on a good – the 100 per cent support from all the ex-pats here in Cyprus, galvanising themselves into providing whatever support they can. Even our construction developer has made his resorts collection centres for clothing, blankets and other necessities.

Like all major disasters, this slaughter of innocent people does tend to bring out the best in most of us ordinary folk.

The Good, the bad, and the Earthquakes

Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergey

Earthquakes, along with other natural disasters of catastrophic scales, like in Turkey now, are something that always reminds me that mankind is just another species on the surface of Earth. We are not rulers of the world in any way. 

Such events do not just cause countless casualties and destroy people’s lives. They can even affect people far away from the sites. For example, the great Japanese earthquake of 2011 changed my plans dramatically. Back then I was working at Reader’s Digest Russia in Moscow. I was leading a team that was going to shoot a documentary in Japan, dedicated to Russian heritage abroad. Other parts of our documentary trilogy were France and Alaska. 

Our bosses at Reader’s Digest told us: you can go anywhere in the world to shoot, except for Japan; though I knew from my local Japanese sources that it was safe to go to Tokyo and any place in the country, except for approaching the Fukushima nuclear station. Hey, we didn’t plan to do it anyway. 


This is how we had to choose another location and, eventually, we went to shoot in Nepal. And now all things Nepalese are a pretty big part of my life. In several days, at the invitation of the Ambassador of Nepal, I go to talk about that very movie we produced back in 2011. 

My Nepalese connection was caused by that great earthquake. What a twist!

This was only a particle, quite a positive one, of how such natural disasters can affectTurkey people and lives. I can’t even imagine the scale of personal tragedies that the Turkish quake caused. The death toll now is around 20,000 and, unfortunately, it will be rising… Too strong a quake and too old houses not able to stand it. 

The worst thing about earthquakes is that you can’t effectively predict them, such as scale, site, etc. It is simply beyond our scientific horizon. 

I express my deepest condolences to the people who suffered from this tragedy, whose relatives and friends died or were injured. 

On the philosophical side, this is what happens in life. Good turns into bad, and earthquakes are the vehicles of fate. Hopefully, time cures, and maybe bad would be slowly turn into good. Hopefully, Turkish developers would now start constructing more earthquake-proof houses and buildings because every 40-50 years such disasters in this part of the world will be happening. 

The Good, The Bad, & The Earthquake

Photograph of Dean Lewis

The Americans are very good about helping others during disasters. We do some messed up stuff but not our response to disasters. The official position on this is that the Americans sit all politics aside during a disaster. North Korea gets treated the same as Great Britain. While I’m sure that’s not quite true, it is true in general tenor. I’m also sure had this exact same earthquake hit downtown London many dozens of shiploads of supplies would already be in route from civilians, the government could more or less stand aside.

Erdogan told some straight-up lies about America after that coup. His people believed him and now, for better or worse, there will be no clothing drives by a local PTA in Tennessee. People will die. No, it’s not right but it is what is happening. There are no ships coming at full speed and Delta will not donate flights, only the Government will respond. That is by no means a small thing, I’m sure they will send billions in disaster relief but it’s far from what the American people would have done for the Aussies. It doesn’t matter, Erdogan has seen to it that there is no love between these people. 


It may well turn out that this terrible disaster will be Erdogan’s undoing. As I write this it looks as though special taxes that were collected by the Turkish Government specifically for earthquake preparedness were dumped into the general budget. If it turns out that even one Turkish Lira of that earthquake money was spent on his thousand-room palace, it may well mean Recep’s retirement.

The American public is by no means alone in this double standard. Question: how many schools do you think will hold fund-raisers for Türkiye in Sweden? How about Poland or Finland? Any Church from any EU or NATO country anywhere? I’m not saying it’s right but it is what will happen. This one man has placed an entire nation in a position where more people will needlessly die. Yes, of course every last country will send money and military planeloads of tents and blankets.

To prove my point, I went to my list of “friends” on Facebook. 142 people, mostly Americans. Out of that group, exactly three have put Facebook’s little Turkish flag on their profile pictures. All three own property in The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus and all are from the UK. Not a single North American, European, or Russian resident added that little flag. Not one TRNC native added that flag; however in fairness most Turkish-Cypriots have commented. I remember when the terrorist struck Paris almost everybody, regardless of nationality had the Facebook provided French tri-color in their profile picture. 

And Syria? Forget it. I don’t think Facebook even bothered to make them a little flag. They will also receive supplies and the prayers of those who hate Muslims. And that’s the one thing that could save Erdogan: he has been hugely successful at making his people think the West dislikes Türkiye because it’s a successful Muslim nation. It may be his best chance to remain in office.