Turkey has witnessed a major domestic migration in the aftermath of massive earthquakes in early February, with nearly 2 million people having moved from quake-stricken areas to neighboring provinces since the disaster, the Milliyet daily reported on Thursday.
Turkey’s most powerful earthquake in almost 100 years, which struck near the city of Gaziantep as people were still sleeping, has claimed the lives of more than 44,000 people in Turkey, according to the latest official figures. The 7.8-magnitude quake was followed by a number of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue efforts the same day.
According to Milliyet, 1,971,589 people were either evacuated from the earthquake zone or moved to other cities on their own, registering themselves as earthquake victims with provincial or district governors’ offices.
The actual number, including unregistered survivors, is estimated to be above 2 million, Milliyet said.
The majority of search and rescue teams have left the earthquake areas, with the number of rescue personnel in the region declining to 6,368 as of Wednesday.
Meanwhile, İstanbulites, who are worried that the city of 16 million with overcrowded, shoddy buildings that is likely to be hit by a powerful earthquake at some point in the future since it is situated near the North Anatolian Fault, also started to move to districts predicted to be safer within the city or to other provinces.
Speaking to the Ekonomim.com news website, Mehmet Bağlar from Hayatoğlu Transportation said the number of people who want to leave their old apartments and move their belongings to a warehouse has increased from two or three to between 30 and 40 a week after the massive earthquakes in southern Turkey.
Bağlar added that the number of people leaving İstanbul within the past 10 days has reached the peak of the last 20 years.