March 20, 2023

After almost 20 hours of driving, we arrived in Kahramanmaras, at a scene past description. A very apocalyptic scale of devastation. Constructing after constructing, block after block, had been levelled.

Rescue groups have been working frantically to achieve folks buried within the rubble of that first magnitude 7.8 earthquake on February 6.

I had been woke up simply after 4am that day by Al Jazeera’s newsdesk to be advised that an earthquake had hit southern Turkey, the place my family was from, and nonetheless lives. No one knew on the time how robust it was.

However earlier than I might journey to examine on them, our staff needed to journey to the epicenter of the earthquake, Kahramanmaras.

Every so often, a name would exit for silence when rescuers heard a voice from beneath the fallen buildings. A whole bunch of individuals huddled in on and across the rubble, scared and exhausted however nonetheless hoping to listen to the voice of their family members.

Berrin Izgin’s son and husband have been nonetheless underneath the rubble, she advised me. She had already misplaced a toddler and daughter-in-law and was ready, hoping to get her son and husband again. Hours later, her son Mehmet was pulled out. However her husband, regardless of all efforts, remained underneath the particles that night time.

There have been dozens of individuals underneath the identical collapsed block, many nonetheless alive, their households ready anxiously within the freezing chilly.

Almost 6,000 folks died and almost 1,000 buildings collapsed in Kahramanmaras. Rescue efforts have been frantic and households have been refusing to go away till their relations got here out from underneath the rubble. To put in Lifeless or alive.

As a result of there was nowhere else, our staff slept in our automobile throughout freezing nights, huddled in sleeping luggage. Days handed because the tragedy unfolded. On the morning of the fourth day, the temperature was nonetheless under zero.

Brother of survivor Gokhan Ugurlu, 35, reacts as rescuers work in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake
Brother of survivor Gokhan Ugurlu, 35, reacts as rescuers work within the aftermath of the quakes in Hatay, February 12 [Kemal Aslan/Reuters/TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY]

Zahide had been close to the place we parked our automobile for greater than 80 hours, hoping to seek out her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchild who have been underneath the rubble she was looking at nonstop.

When she noticed our digital camera, she mentioned: “Report on this, so that folks know my ache. My pricey ones are burning underneath this rubble.”

Subsequent to her, a Syrian household had six relations in the identical collapsed constructing. They mentioned they fled the civil battle and got here to Kahramanmaras to start a brand new, safer life in 2013. Turkish and Syrian households shared the identical ache.

Folks have been attempting to manage, counting on help and sleeping in automobiles because the aftershocks continued. “God shall save us. We at the moment are refugees,” mentioned an aged Turkish lady, barely in a position to stroll.

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