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Kyrgyzstan: Earthquake Crisis Reveals Cracks in the System

A composite map from satellite images shows the town of Gulcha (center) in Kyrgyzstan’s southwestern mountainous region, where 432 people reported damage to their homes when a mid-November earthquake struck. Since November, around $780,000 has been accumulated in a fund for victims of the catastrophe. (Google Maps)

Months after an earthquake shook the Kara-Suu district of southern Kyrgyzstan, families whose homes were severely damaged are enduring the winter in repurposed cargo containers.
 
The tremors, which hit on November 17-18, were modest by the standards of the last year’s earthquake in Nepal that killed more than 9,000 people. But the event is exposing some worrying shortfalls. New buildings going up often do not meet standards, a cash-strapped government struggles to provide adequate compensation and, most pressing for the people immediately affected, post-emergency assistance is wanting.
 
In one village, Beksultan Ermamat uulu has moved with his wife and three younger sisters into a container. They say it will do for now. “The government provided people with the containers, which are safe. So we can live there till spring,” he said.
 
Tents and containers provided are heated by stoves, but it is still cold inside, so some families have succumbed to illness amid the low temperatures. Emergency officials say 178 families have been accommodated in containers.
 

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Anna Lelik is a Bishkek-based reporter.

Kyrgyzstan: Earthquake Crisis Reveals Cracks in the System

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