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Governor of earthquake-stricken province resigns after confrontation with victims

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The governor of one of the provinces hardest hit by recent earthquakes in Turkey’s southeast has resigned, citing health reasons, after a confrontation with earthquake victims shortly after the temblors struck.

Mahmut Çuhadar, the governor of Adıyaman, one of the 11 provinces in Turkey’s south and southeast hit by two powerful earthquakes last month that led to widespread devastation and almost 50,000 deaths, called it quits on Friday and announced his decision on Twitter.

He had served as the city’s governor for three years. Çuhadar cited only health reasons for his resignation, but it came after he attracted widespread criticism due to a confrontation he had with earthquake survivors the day after the quakes struck.

A video circulating on social media shows Çuhadar keeping silent and smiling at earthquake victims when they angrily ask why search and rescue teams hadn’t arrived the city.

In response, the frustrated earthquake victims ask him why he’s laughing.

His is the first resignation of a government official since the earthquakes, although he failed to mention any earthquake-related reason for his decision.

Residents of Adıyaman complained that the city, where hundreds of buildings were flattened, was left to its fate for days and that many people died under the rubble while waiting to be rescued.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have so far ignored calls for resignations due to their poor handling of the disaster.

They were accused of poor performance in coordinating search and rescue efforts, mainly failing to mobilize enough people and a lack of coordination among the teams, which resulted in civilians in some regions trying to pull their loved ones from under the rubble themselves.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on Tuesday that the death toll in Turkey from the earthquakes had reached 47,932.

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