Soccer fans in Istanbul flooded the pitch on Feb. 26 with plush toys for children who survived the two devastating earthquakes that hit earlier this month. 4 minutes and 17 seconds in, the match was paused for the donations in remembrance of the first earthquake, which struck at 4:17 a.m.
Videos of the “This Toy is For You” event—which took place during a match between teams Beşiktaş and Antalyaspor at the former’s Vodafone Park—showed fans showering the field with teddy bears, plush dogs, and at least one monkey attached to a letter that seemed to be hand-written by a child.
Antalyaspor maçında sahaya atılan pelüş oyuncakların, depremden etkilenen çocuklarımıza gönderilmesi için hazırlıklarımız başladı. #ÇocuklarHepGülsün pic.twitter.com/1v8V8D4f2i
— Beşiktaş JK (@Besiktas) February 27, 2023
Over 44,000 people have been confirmed dead following two earthquakes on Feb. 6, which reached 7.7 and 7.6 on the Richter scale in the southeastern city of Kahramanmaraş, according to the Turkish interior ministry’s disaster and emergency management authority. Over 5,000 people also died in Syria, according to Reuters.
During the match, there was also a reminder that many Turks are critical of the government’s response to the disaster, with some fans chanting “government resign,” CNN reported. Earthquake survivors told TIME that the government dispatched an inadequate number of emergency teams, which delayed rescues from the rubble. Meanwhile, the government worked to curb dissent in the aftermath of the disaster, blocking Twitter for 12 hours and arresting people who had criticized the government.
The Turkish Justice Ministry has announced the investigation of 134 people who were allegedly responsible for the collapse of buildings in the earthquakes, including contractors, although others have argued that there is shared responsibility across the government for fostering a corrupt system.
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