Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visited southern Turkey on Wednesday to see first-hand the destruction wrought by a massive earthquake as anger grew among local people over what they said was a slow government response to the rescue and relief effort.
The confirmed death toll from Monday's quake, which struck a swathe of southern Turkey and neighboring Syria, rose to more than 11,000 people in both countries.
The tally was expected to rise as hundreds of collapsed buildings in many cities have become tombs for people who had been asleep in their homes when the quake hit in the early morning.
Initial problems in Turkey's earthquake response
Erdogan, who has declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces and sent in troops to help, arrived in the city of Kahramanmaras to view the damage and see the rescue and relief effort.
He acknowledged there were some problems in the initial response to the massive earthquakes that struck southern Turkey but stated that operations are back to normal now.
Speaking to reporters in the Kahramanmaras province near the epicenter of the earthquake, with constant ambulance sirens in the background, Erdogan said there had been problems with roads and airports but that everything would get better by the day.
He also said citizens should only heed communication from authorities and ignore "provocateurs," as thousands of people complain about the lack of resources and slow response by officials.
The disaster poses a new challenge to him in the election he faces in May which was already set to be the toughest of his two decades in power.
Any perception that the government is failing to address the disaster properly could hurt Erdogan's prospects in the vote, but analysts say that on the other hand, he could rally national support around the crisis response and strengthen his position.