Drenched by pouring rain, more and more are falling sick, and with the first winter snows expected in November there is an urgent need to get people under cover fast.
A doctor in Van told Reuters his hospital had received 700 patients suffering cold-related problems on Thursday alone. Many people were also treated for anxiety.
Although search operations are beginning to wind down, 187 people have been found alive under collapsed buildings since the quake struck on Sunday afternoon, according to an official count.
The Disaster and Emergency Administration said on Friday the death toll had risen to 573, with 2,608 people hurt in Turkey's biggest quake in more than a decade.
No official figures were available for the homeless.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies put the number of "affected people" at 50,000.
In Ercis alone, a town of around 100,000 people, hardly anyone was going back to their homes even if they were still standing.
President Abdullah Gul announced that parades and receptions for Republic Day on Saturday were canceled, and went on to bemoan poor construction and lack of inspections in Turkey that led to a "problem of shoddy buildings".
"While the Van earthquake has reminded us of the reality that ours is a country prone to earthquakes, it has also shown the destruction caused by neglect and irresponsibility," he said.
Two or three tent cities have sprouted on the outskirts of Ercis, but thousands of men, having settled children and women as best they can, wander at night looking for shelter.
With nowhere to go, they lean against walls to protect themselves from the rain.
Some survivors, who had stood in long queues only to be told there were no tents left, accused officials of handing aid to supporters of the ruling AK party. Others said profiteers were hoarding tents and reselling them.