Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan apologized Monday for sluggish relief efforts after a series of deadly earthquakes killed tens of thousands in the country’s southeast in February, informed Politico.
“Due to the devastating effects of the quakes and bad weather, as well as difficulties caused by damaged infrastructures, we were not able to work the way we wanted in the first few days,” Erdoğan said during a visit to the Adiyaman province, located near the earthquakes’ epicenter, amid rising criticism over the government’s rescue response.
“For this, I apologize,” he added.
On February 6, two major earthquakes hit southeastern Turkey within a few hours, causing more than 40,000 deaths.
The Turkish president has come under heavy criticism from the opposition, with several politicians pointing to the country’s unpreparedness to handle such a large natural disaster.
The government’s earthquake response could be a key issue in the next general election, which should take place in May and June, and is likely to be the most closely contested in Erdoğan’s rule.
In a sign of growing anger, football fans called on the government to resign during several games over the weekend, slamming the government’s response to the quakes.