University students in Turkey’s earthquake disaster zone grapple with disease, floods and infestations 

University students living in tent cities in Turkey’s earthquake disaster zone have been grappling with flooding, contagious disease outbreaks and vermin infestations, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

The magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 earthquakes affected 11 provinces in the country’s south and southeast on Feb. 6, killing more than 50,000 people and leaving millions homeless. While most universities in the region have switched to online education, the Iskenderun Technical University’s Faculty of Architecture and Engineering has been continuing with in-person education, which has caused great inconveniences to students. 

Since most student dormitories sustained heavy damage in the earthquakes, students have been staying in tents provided by NATO. The tents are organized so that 10 students share one tent and use common toilets. 

The approaching winter months and increasingly rainy weather have caused flooding in the tents and common bathroom areas. Insects as well as snakes and scorpions have been infesting the tents to escape from the cold. 

Students complained that the bathrooms were extremely filthy at the best of times, but with recent flooding they have now become even worse. Such terrible conditions have also led to outbreaks of disease. 

Speaking to journalists, one student said there was also a lack of security in the tent city. “Anyone can freely come in and out of the tent city. Yes, there are guards, but the guards don’t really have the power to stop anyone from entering,” the student said. 

According to media reports, the situation will only get worse in the coming weeks as all of the university faculties have planned in-person exams, which means the number of students staying in the tents will increase. 

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