Looters are rounded up and beaten in Turkey after raiding properties hit by earthquake
Looters are rounded up and beaten in Turkey after raiding properties hit by earthquake: Videos show thieves pinned down, slapped and kicked as country tackles disaster that has claimed 22,000 lives
- Many quake victims have been forced to loot for food and find shelter from cold
- But plenty of opportunistic thieves seized the chance to take what they could
- Some were caught by vigilante citizens and security officials and took a beating
Footage has emerged of Turkish police and enraged bystanders rounding up and beating looters who were caught rifling through damaged properties amid the fallout of this week’s devastating earthquakes.
When the twin tremors, each with a magnitude of well over 7, demolished tens of thousands of buildings throughout Turkey’s southeast, many were deprived of their livelihoods and were cast onto the street to survive the bitter cold.
There were reports of quake victims forced to break into supermarkets and loot for food and shelter, lest they succumb to the sub-zero temperatures with no supplies to their name.
But as with any natural disaster, for every victim in need there are plenty of opportunistic thieves who seize the chance to take what they can, wherever they can amid the chaos.
Angry citizens reeling from the quake beat many of the looters who they’d helped round up alongside security officials. One man is seen kicking and standing on the head of one looter. It is unclear whether he is a vigilante or a security official
Several clips circulating on social media showed a string of suspected looters, many of whom were far too well groomed and crisply dressed to have been caught up in the quake, being arrested by police.
They were later forced to kneel in rows by their captors and some who protested were kicked or pinned down.
Other clips saw furious citizens handing out slaps and a few kicks before the thieves were marched away in disgrace by military men.
A man is seen lying on the floor and is hit in the face. The footage then shows others on the ground, with blood splattered on the pavement
In some cases the beatings went beyond the limit for the security officers who were forced to intervene to prevent the accused from sustaining serious injuries at the hands of vigilantes.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who faces a tough election in May, has renewed a promise to quake survivors to rebuild destroyed homes within a year.
The government was working to install temporary container homes as well as caravans to shelter those left homeless, he said after a tour of the city of Gaziantep, before adding that the current state of emergency declared in the 10 Turkish provinces would give security officials the authority to punish looters.
Military officers lead one suspected looter away from a damaged property in a headlock with his arms pinned behind his back
In Gaziantep, Erdogan said the measure would allow the government to fight thieves, ‘loan sharks’ and other groups that he said would aim to ‘exploit the crisis’.
Rescuers on Friday continued to pull children and their family members from the rubble of the Turkey-Syria earthquake.
But the death toll is now approaching 23,000 and a winter freeze has only compounded the suffering for those displaced.
The United Nations warned that 874,000 people were now in urgent need of hot meals across Turkey and Syria, as the organisation’s World Food Programme appealed for $77 million to provide rations for those affected by the deadly quake.
A brawl breaks out between enraged citizens and people suspected of looting damaged buildings. A policeman is seen standing on one incapacitated suspect on the right
The number in need of aid ‘includes 284,000 newly displaced people in Syria and 590,000 people in Turkey, which includes 45,000 refugees and 545,000 internally displaced people’, it said.
Five days of grief and anguish have been slowly building into rage at the Turkish government’s response in the face of the country’s most dire disaster in nearly a century.
Erdogan conceded for the first time Friday that his government was not able to reach and help the victims ‘as quickly as we had desired’.
In Syria meanwhile, the first UN aid trucks only arrived in rebel-held areas of the country’s north yesterday, forcing thousands of desperate quake victims to endure three days of horror without help.