Turkey: Earthquake in Bingol Province Appeal No. 09/2003 Operations Update No. 2

This Ops Update is intended for reporting on emergency appeals.
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Launched on 2 May 2003 for CHF 2,384,000 (USD 1,770,079 or EUR 1,579,296) for six months for 36,000 beneficiaries.

Beneficiaries: 36,000

Period covered: 7-13 May 2003


Appeal coverage: 13.6%

Related Appeals: 2003 Annual Appeal for Turkey (no. 01.80/2003)

Outstanding needs: CHF 2,059,353

Summary: Despite the fact that this operation has once again demonstrated the importance of adequate disaster preparedness and the need for adequate emergency stocks in the country, the initial donor response to the appeal has so far been limited, raising concerns as the TRCS and the Federation have mobilised their existing resources in the operation. The appeal budget will soon be revised, and will take into account the results of the recent assessments. Contributions are urgently needed, with an emphasis on unearmarked funds in order to ensure enough flexibility in the implementation of the operation.

Operational Developments

The effect of the earthquake in Bingol Province which took place on 1 May 2003 at 3:20 am and registered 6.4 on the Richter scale, was relatively isolated and although the death toll and numbers of injured were significant, it was restricted to a few areas with limited destruction and impact on the rest of the community. Crisis intervention work progressed rapidly with nearly all dead and missing discovered within three days. According to the official statistics, 177 people lost their lives and 521 people got injured1, with the most significant damage occurring as a result of the collapse of a primary boarding school with 85 children and one teacher being killed and 115 children being rescued, resulting in significant loss in the 14 villages which were their homes.

The earthquake caused damage and injuries in Bingol and in surrounding towns and villages, including Celtiksuyu, Sancak and Cimenli, Goltepsi. Bingol province has a population of 260,000 of which 75,000 lives in the city centre. Located in the eastern part of the country, it is one of the poorest provinces of Turkey where infant mortality rate is 60 per 1000. Some 56 per cent of the families living in the villages do not have access to running water - country average is 17 per cent.

According to a preliminary damage assessment in the housing sector for Bingol - which could eventually prove to be much higher, 82 housing units had been completely destroyed, 1,176 heavily damaged and uninhabitable, and 1,399 damaged, but inhabitable. In 75 villages, total 609 barns were collapsed with a total number of 1,662 dead livestock. The number of farmers who lost their livestock is 534. Public buildings in Bingol including schools, hospitals and government offices have been heavily affected by the earthquake. There are total 269 schools (primary/high school) in the province, of which 53 are in the city centre. Results of the initial assessment completed in 27 schools are: four schools collapsed, nine were heavily damaged, while another 11 were lightly affected; only three schools had no damage. Authorities are still conducting damage assessments. The Ministry of Interior Crisis Centre in Bingol is projecting that 90 per cent of the total population in the area have been directly impacted.

All search and rescue operations have now been terminated and rehabilitation activities have begun. Most commercial activities in Bingol have resumed. However, given the impact on the education sector, regular classes are still suspended until temporary facilities can be arranged. Water and electricity services had been interrupted initially, but were restored in Bingol by Friday, 2 May 2003.

The powerful earthquake has been followed by hundreds of aftershocks - 350 registered since 1 May 2003 - in the same area ranging up to 4.5 in magnitude. These moderate tremors have provoked panic and concern among the local population, who continue living in tents outside their homes, although some are either lightly damaged or in relatively good condition. As the frequency and intensity of the aftershocks decreases, people are slowly returning to their homes.


Co-ordination is a strong and integral component of this operation. Federation and the Turkish Red Crescent Society (TRCS, also called Kizilay) work in partnership with government authorities, United Nations agencies and other NGOs as part of a coordinated effort to confront the humanitarian challanges caused by the earthquake. Regular meetings are held with government authorities and other humanitarian actors operating in the earthquake area to ensure effective and efficient support to victims of the disaster while maintaining their neutral and independent role.

The TRCS maintains close working relationship with delegations of the sister National Societies present in the country to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure the resources are deployed where the most needed. The Iranian Red Crescent provided 300 tents through the TRCS to the people who needed shelter. The American Red Cross plans to support the Turkish Red Crescent to provide food security and relief supplies to up to 9,000 families (approximately 58,500 people with an average household size of 6,5) affected by the earthquake and to restock for future disasters. 9,000 families will receive supplemental dry food packages for one month.

Good relationships between the components of the Movement have helped to achieve positive positioning of the local Red Crescent Society with the government and other humanitarian agencies. Psychosocial support is provided in close cooperation and coordination with the UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, which has also deployed medical teams in the disaster affected area. The TRCS is a member of the Crisis Centre established at the Provincial Governor’s office shortly after the disaster struck the area.

The Red Crescent volunteer base is seen as a unique force by many external institutions who seek partnership. A vivid illustration of this is the effective co-operation between the TRCS and other national NGOs, local communities, business institutions and private enterprises donating food and other relief items to Kizilay for the distribution to the earthquake victims. Over 111 tons of food collected locally was distributed through the Turkish Red Crescent.

Emergency relief aid continues to flow into the affected area covering the existing needs and coordination of efforts between various humanitarian actors is increasingly important to ensure effective response to the disaster.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

The initial emergency responce activities in the earthquake area have been carried out on a timely and effective basis and the most immediate needs of the population were covered. The TRCS was quick to respond to the tremor, rushing in relief materials - tents and blankets, five tonnes of food, nine mobile kitchens - enough to serve 20,000 people a day, a field hospital with 50 beds and a mobile clinic, four ambulances and five generators to the quake zone. A team of 25 volunteers from Mus and Erzincan Branches was immediately deployed to the earthquake area to carry out search and rescue operations. Shortly after the earthquake struck the Bingol Province, the TRCS volnteers were on the disaster site providing water and food to the victims. Some 2,000 people were assisted and 1,000 food parcels were distrubuted on the first day only. The affected families were also provided with 700 hygiene and 400 baby food parcels from the TRCS emergency stocks. The National Society distributes over 3,000 pieces of clothes to the needed families.

While rescue work has now ended, relief activities are still going on in outlying villages as well as in the town of Bingol itself. Some 50 Kizilay volunteers and staff are currently on the site providing vital services to thousands of homeless people, who desperately need help.

Objectives, activities and results

Health and care

Objective 1. Provide psychosocial support to affected population

Activities undertaken: Psychosocial emergency response efforts of TRCS were initiated immediately starting from the first day of the earthquake with four professional personnel from the National Society supported by the two additional professional personnel from the Federation. Kizilay’s psychosocial efforts involved:

  • initial assessment,

  • distribution of brochures that included information about psychosocial effects of disasters to survivors and other beneficiaries, who were contacted in the regions where Kizilay food distributions took place.

  • Distribution of brochures that included information about psychosocial effects of working in disaster relief operations and ways of helping each other to cope with them to search and rescue workers, Kizilay staff and staff of the Bingol State Hospital as well as other workers.

  • Giving psychosocial first aid to the affected population, especially children, who have been rescued from the ruins of the school; identifying individuals who need further support and referring them to the professional organisations and institutions that are giving psychosocial support in the region.

Following the earthquake, TRCS provided psychological support to 5,542 adults, children and rescue workers. Over 4,000 brochures have been distributed to the earthquake affected population to help them cope with the trauma and stress caused by the disaster.

The psychosocial team has now come back to Ankara having accomplished the initial psychosocial emergency response. Following the first intervention, the next phase of programming and short-term responsibilities of Kizilay is anticipated to include:

  • Facilitation of the co-ordination of psychosocial efforts with all partners in order to ensure identification of priority psychosocial needs effectively as soon as possible and linking them with available resources. These partners include various governmental organisations - Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education working with UNICEF, NGOs - Turkish Psychologists Association, Reachable Life Society, universities and local institutions - Social Services Directorate and Bingol State Hospital.

  • Continue workers support orientations, debriefings or meetings for the staff who have worked in the emergency operation.

  • In parallel with the above activities, healthy closure of supportive relationships with the survivors who have been given psychological first aid and informing the partners who will have a long term supportive commitment in the region about this process in order to ensure the sustainability and follow-up of the initial support survivors had received.

  • Informative meetings and training for Kizilay to provide psychosocial capacity building for future emergencies.

Objective 2. Provide equipment and medical supplies to the affected area

Activities undertaken: The initial plan of action envisioned deployment of an international emergency response unit (ERU) to the disaster affected area. However, the assessment conducted recently by a consultant from the German Red Cross found this will not be necessary as all the emergency health needs had been covered with nationally available resources. Therefore the funds projected for the ERU in the original appeal will no longer be sought. The existing health facilities in the region provide effective support to the target population. Over 300 people were provided with first aid by the TRCS field hospital and a mobile clinic. The referral system works well and patients can be transferred to hospitals in the surrounding towns without delay. The outbreak of disaster related health epidemics is not expected.

Relief distribution of food and basic non-food items

Objective 1. Provide hot meals to 60,000 persons for one month

Activities undertaken: The Turkish Red Crescent Society set up a mobile kitchen in the disaster affected villages to serve two hot meals a day - soup in the morning followed by rice, beans and bread in the afternoon - to all the families in need. The service is provided to residents in the centre of Bingol too. On average, 6,000 to 7,000 people are served hot meals each day. Prepared in a mobile kitchen site by 15 cooks, the food is carried to fixed distribution points twice a day. This service will continue for another couple of days while the Turkish Red Crescent Society, in coordination with the local authorities, further assesses how many people will still rely on outside food deliveries and how this can be best organised.

Objective 2. Procurement of mobile kitchen

Activities undertaken: Rapid, effective and efficient response to the victims of the disaster was possible by utilising existing resources of the National Society. Turkey is a disaster prone country and the significance of the adequate preparedness for emergencies cannot be overestimated. The TRCS capacity to provide hot meals during future disasters must therefore be strengthened. Five mobile kitchen units will be procured within the framework of the current emergency appeal. The Singapore Red Cross has kindly provided funding to procure three mobile kitchens.


Objective 1. Replenishment of 5,000 tents and 30,000 blankets

Activities undertaken: There have now been more than 350 aftershocks since 1 May 2003, and many of Bingol’s residents fear that their homes might not withstand a large one. In response to their needs, the Turkish Red Crescent has now distributed 12,964 tents and 18,217 blankets. As the population showed preference for living close to their homes, as opposed to moving to tent camps, it was decided to distribute the tents to individual families. The families continue to live in the tents fearing to return to damaged houses, the assessment of which is still ongoing.

Recalling the two earthquakes of 1999 in the west of the country, killing nearly 20,000 people and given Turkey’s proneness to such disasters, it is critical that the TRCS stocks be replenished to enable a timely, effective and efficient response to the needs of potential disaster victims.

Disaster Preparedness

Earthquakes are common in Turkey, which lies at the convergence of three major tectonic plates. Bingol earthquake occurred 70 kilometers (43 miles) southeast of the epicenter of a magnitude 6.1 earthquake that killed one person and injured several others in January. A magnitude 8.0 quake in 1939 killed an estimated 33,000 people about 75 miles northwest of Bingol. Turkey, due to its particular location, needs a strong national society with a well-developed disaster management system to ensure rapid response and efficient coordination at the time of emergencies, particularly as the TRCS is one of the major players in this field. This will be achieved through training in different areas - first aid, monitoring, reporting, developing international standards and tools in disaster management. The psychosocial component of the operation has been encouraging community participation in the disaster affected area to promore self-reliance among the victims of the earthquake.

The plan of action also envisages the development of two zonal disaster centres at strategically selected sites. Emergency relief stocks as well as crisis communication equipment and logistics support units will be pre-positioned at these zonal centres.

A consultant will be recruited in order to further assist the TRCS in developing and strengthening the disaster preparedness capacities of the national society and its branches.

National Society Capacity Building

Building the capacity of the National Society is the priority of this appeal. All Federation support aims to empower the local Red Crescent Society to provide sustainable support to communities in need. The focus is on strengthening the disaster management capacity. The Bingol operation will be carefully analysed and lessons learned will be included in the planned training to further improve the quality of Red Crescent services in the time of future similar emergencies.

Federation Delegation

The Federation has a team of experienced professionals in the fields of disaster management, relief, psychosocial support, media/public relations assisting the National Society to provide efficient and effective services to the disaster affected population. The Federation has deployed a psychosocial delegate and a psychosocial officer to support the TRCS psychosocial team. A disaster preparedness and information delegates, as well as an information officer have been also working at the earthquake site.

Media/Public Information

The TRCS and the Federation have been continually in touch with representatives of international and national media disseminating information on the needs of the affected population and TRCS response operation. A number of articles were published in the local newspapers. Several stories about the TRCS work in the disaster affected area were posted on the Federation’s web page. The Federation/TRCS information team gave few live and pre-recorded interviews on the impacts of the earthquake and the relief efforts undertaken by the Kizilay in response to the disaster. Noteworthy is the active participation of the National Society in the work with national and international media. Immediately after the disaster occurred, the Federation information delegate and information officer left for the earthquake affected area. The Federation information team was joined by a representative from the TRCS international relations department. This has proved to be an excellent opportunity for the National Society to learn from practice through direct participation in the response operation which has led to appreciation by the National Society of the importance of communication and effective information sharing. A comprehensive evaluation of the TRCS/Federation response to media requests and coverage will be carried out jointly by the Federation and the TRCS information departments which will build a solid foundation for future effective response.

Most of the buildings damaged during the earthquake appear to have been built over the past five years, demonstrating yet again that the authorities have yet to effectively monitor and supervise construction codes in the areas lying on a major fault line. The Federation in cooperation with the Istanbul city municipality and Istanbul Governor’s office is planning to organise a Safe Building Workshop in September 2003 for leading construction companies, government departments responsible for monitoring of construction works in the country, insurance agencies and private enterprises. The workshop aims to promote safety awareness in construction through case studies and information sharing.

Outstanding needs

The operation once again demonstrated the importance of adequate disaster preparedness. In order to ensure the local Red Crescent provides rapid and effective response to future similar emergencies, it is crucial to secure sufficient emergency stocks in the country. By strengthening local disaster management capacities, the effects of a disaster on vulnerable communities is minimised and the response operations can be implemented with higher cost-efficiency.

The initial donor response to the appeal was low so far raising concern as the TRCS and the Federation has mobilised their existing resources in the operation. The appeal budget will soon be revised, and will take into account the results of the recent assessments. Contributions are urgently needed, with an emphasis on unearmarked funds in order to ensure enough flexibility in the implementation of the operation.

For further details please contact: Sylvie Chevalley, Phone : 41 22 730 4276; Fax: 41 22 733 03 95; email: sylvie.chevalley@ifrc.org

All International Federation Operations seek to adhere to the Code of Conduct and are committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (SPHERE Project) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

This operation seeks to administer to the immediate requirements of the victims of this disaster. Subsequent operations to promote sustainable development or longer-term capacity building will require additional support, and these programmes are outlined on the Federation’s website.

For further information concerning Federation operations in this or other countries, please access the Federation website at http://www.ifrc.org.


1 Note: the updated figures of the impact caused by this disaster have been provided by the Crisis Centre at the Governorate of the Province of Bingol.

Turkey - earthquake in Bingol
APPEAL No. 09/2003
30' 000
300' 000
10' 000
68' 130