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Adiyaman, Turkey – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan acknowledged for the first time on Friday that: His government’s search and rescue efforts from this week’s devastating earthquake It didn’t go as fast as I thought it would.

Erdogan has faced criticism from earthquake survivors for the inadequate number of aid and humanitarian aid in the first days of Turkey’s biggest disaster in almost 100 years.

of Death toll from 7.8-magnitude quake on Monday The number has passed 22,000 in southeastern Turkey and parts of Syria. About 19,000 of them died in Turkey.

Mr Erdogan reiterated earlier acknowledgments of “shortcomings” in the government’s response. However, he appeared to go a step further by admitting that his team could have responded more quickly.

“Unfortunately, we were not able to intervene as quickly as we would have liked because so many buildings were damaged,” Erdogan said during a visit to the hard-hit southern city of Adiyaman. Told.

He said a winter storm in the area that has made some roads impassable has delayed rescuers.

“Moreover, most of the civil servants who first intervened and organized were under the collapsed buildings,” Erdogan said.

He added that Turkey is now amassing “probably the world’s largest search and rescue team” of 141,000 people across 10 affected provinces.

He also hit back at his critics heading into the dangerous elections the government is planning for May 14.

Secular opposition leader Kemal Kirikdaroglu this week blamed state-linked “profiteers” for failing to follow proper construction laws for the collapse of dozens of buildings in the tremors and aftershocks. .

Mr Erdogan accused “opportunists who want to turn this pain into political gain”.

He also promised to rebuild the damaged areas within a year. AFPMore Turkish President Erdogan admits earthquake rescue operation not as swift as hoped

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