The colossal devastation caused by two powerful earthquakes in southern Turkey has rekindled soul-searching and criticism on how prepared the country is for big temblors, even though 70% of its territory is at risk, crisscrossed by fault lines.

The quakes, which struck with magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5 nine hours apart on Monday and were followed by numerous aftershocks, affected 13.5 million people in 10 provinces, claiming more than 3,500 lives and destroying 5,600 buildings, according to official figures as of Tuesday afternoon.

Desperate survivors fumed at the shortfall of rescuers and equipment, pleading for help to save relatives trapped under the rubble, as first responders had yet to reach many neighborhoods 24 hours after the two quakes. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 8,000 people had been pulled alive from the debris.

Written by Mustafa Sönmez