Added by Erik West on October 24, 2011
Turkey was rocked with a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Sunday, destroying dozens of buildings with an increasing death toll topping 300. The earthquake was in the village of Tabanil, close to the city of Van.
A journalist for Turkey’s Kanal 7, Erhan Celik, realized that thousands had become homeless as a result of the quake. In a tweet to his 22,000 followers asking people willing to offer accommodation to quake victims to send him an email. After about seven hours, he found 17,000 messages in his inbox.
Among the responses, “My house is small but I can sleep in my daughter’s room for a while. I am waiting for a family of two or three people”.
Celik forwarded the messages to the Istanbul governorate saying, “I thank you all in the name of the earthquake victims”.
Turkish authorities later said they would take offers for accommodation directly and had setup a hotline to make it easier to for people to offer their accommodations.
Celik also persuaded three cell phone operators – Turkcell, Avea, and Vodafone to waive fees for talk-time and text messages. A number of people trapped in the rubble contacted relatives and authorities and were later rescued.
The earthquake hit at 1:41pm (10:41 GMT/UTC) in the village of Tabanil, close to the city of Van, on Sunday with a magnitude that was later confirmed by the USGS at 7.2, with a depth of about 20km (12mi). There were about 120 aftershocks on Sunday.
Many of the buildings in the affected regions are not built to a code that protects buildings and occupants from earthquakes, despite the country’s stringent building codes. It is estimated that about one third of buildings in Turkey comply with building codes.