Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Yesterday's internet news reported that "Sunday's earthquake and its aftershocks affected much of eastern Turkey, demolishing hundreds of buildings and burying numerous victims under the rubble. Erciş, (a town near Van) was hardest hit by the violent shaking; at least 55 destroyed buildings, 45 fatalities, and 156 injuries occurred in the town alone. . . The death toll stood at 264 people twenty-two hours after the main shock but as many as a thousand are feared dead. Multiple news reports suggest that up to 1300 are injured as a result of the earthquake with many still stuck under rubble."  Hundreds more fatalities have been reported since this report.

["The 1941 Van-Erciş earthquake occurred at 23:53 local time on 10 September. It had an estimated magnitude of 5.9 and a maximum intensity of VIII (Destructive) on the Mercalli intensity scale, causing 192 casualties.  . . . "Wikipedia]

Marash Girl cried when she heard the news of the lost lives and destruction that occurred on Sunday because of the earthquake in the  city of Van, once the center of a large flourishing Armenian community.

Marash Girl fears the fickleness of natural disasters -- how an earthquake or a tornado can take one building and leave the next intact, can kill one person, and leave the next. . .

But her greater fear is the fear of those disasters caused by mankind, disasters that take the lives of hundreds of thousands, of millions, disasters such as that which occurred in Van and Eastern Turkey between 1915 and 1923.

1 comment:

  1. Chile had a devastating earthquake in the early sixties. her response to it was to establish building codes that could weather such horrors in the future. Last year, she had an earthquake that was 100 times more powerful than the one that hit Haiti in the same year. Chile suffered minimal loss of life and structure, which is why one was spared the alarums for international assistance. Turkey's eastern provinces, for that matter, the whole country is in an active earthquake zone, yet these disasters seem endemic to the Turkish world. Seems there are some who have the capacity to learn from experience, and others who do not. And there are some, who learn, but do not take action. It seems that Turkey would qualify for both characterizations.
    There is an old country story that describes a group of men surrounding a campfire. all are sitting around enjoying the warmth and the beauty of the burning logs. the burning wood in a campfire constantly settles and resettles, sometimes to the advantage of the fire and sometimes to its disadvantage. whatever advantage accrues to the fire enduring is also an advantage for the men surrounding the campfire. because campfires are dynamic, at times, the burning logs have to be adjusted, to gain maximum advantage from the fire.
    the story ends with the comment that the one who stands up and bends to the task of adjusting the logs, that man is an armenian.
    when i was a child and heard that story, i thought it was a story celebrating the dynamism, energy, and industry of armenians. as an adult, i realize now, that if the story were told by turks, and not by armenians, it takes on a different hue altogether. the man who disturbs his rest, his comportment before an elemental power, an elemental source of power, could only be an armenian. from that light, it is understandable why Turkey still suffers from great devastation at the hands of such elemental power. it is because Turkey murdered or exiled all the people from the eastern provinces who had such energy, who were willing to disturb their rest and comportment to address the elemental forces arrayed before them.