Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday declared a three-month state of emergency in 10 southeastern provinces hit by a major earthquake that has claimed thousands of lives, Agence France-Presse reported.
Rescue and recovery work in the isolated region near Syria has been hamstrung by a fierce winter storm that has made some roads impassable and slowed the delivery of food and aid.
Erdoğan said a series of emergency measures would be taken to flood the affected areas with humanitarian relief workers and financial assistance.
“We have decided to declare a state of emergency to ensure that our [rescue and recovery] work can be carried out rapidly,” Erdoğan said in televised remarks.
“We will quickly complete the legislative process for this decision, which will cover 10 provinces where the earthquake struck and will last for three months.”
Erdoğan’s government is coming under growing pressure on social media for what his critics view as a slow response to Turkey’s biggest earthquake in nearly a century.
The latest toll showed Monday’s 7.8-magnitude tremor and its aftershocks killing 3,549 people in Turkey and 1,602 in government and rebel-controlled parts of Syria.
Erdoğan said his government would send more than 50,000 aid workers to the area and allocate 100 billion lira ($5.3 billion) in financial assistance.
Erdoğan’s handling of the biggest natural disaster in his two-decade rule could prove crucial ahead of tightly contested parliamentary and presidential elections on May 14.