We made our first trip to the epicenter town, Erciş, today. En route we stopped to see some families who were immigrants from Afghanistan. Most of them were Tajik and a large portion of them had only recently come to Van. Their shanty homes were no match for the 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The winter is on its way and the locals say, “It’s not cold yet.” Temps are hovering around freezing most days. Many are lighting fires inside their tents to keep warm and are suffering the effects in the form of respiratory problems like bronchitis.
After visiting with these families, we went to meet another family with whom we plan on spending most of Monday. They lost two sons-in-law in the quake and one whose wife had just delivered twins a week before. We spent a few hours with them and drank lots of çay and ate lots of bread.