Wed. Mar 29th, 2023


The Real News Network

Inside the Turkish ‘ghost towns’ where desperate search continues

6 min read

Turkey: Multiple buildings damaged after earthquake in Hatay

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Serhat, from the city of Diyarbakir in the southeast of Turkey, is enduring an excruciating wait to find out whether his close friends are okay. He told “Some of my friends are dead, others I don’t know if they are alive or not”. Sadly, Serhat is one of the millions of people who have either lost loved ones or waiting to hear if they are safe. Last week’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake reduced cities across Turkey and Syria to rubble, instantly turning people’s lives upside down.

With the death toll surpassing now 34,000 and expected to rise further, rescue efforts are continuing across the country.

Serhat’s brother, Adnan, says his children are still traumatised by Monday’s events. They can’t even look at the TV for fear of seeing more imagery related to the earthquake.

Adnan continued: “Ten people who live close to me are dead, this is really hard to talk about because I spent every day with them. Psychologically, this has affected people in every city.

“I am very upset, I didn’t want to see them that way. They died in a poor way because the buildings were old, I am very upset about this. They died together, it included children, adults, and grandparents.”

Serhat said some of his friends are “still stuck under the buildings”. He added: “It is very painful, but I am praying for them.”

A week on from the disaster, he and his friends have concentrated their efforts on helping deliver aid to people who need it most, but it’s clear the sense of loss is still raw.

The earthquake struck at about 4am on Monday morning. Serhat was “scared and upset” as he woke up to the sound of his mother’s terrified voice.

While the shaking lasted just 90 seconds, the damage left behind will take years to repair. Serhat says the walls in his sixth-floor apartment have “collapsed” and it is “too dangerous” to stay there.

He added: “I’m not worried about myself because there are other people who have been impacted worse by the earthquake.”

Around 120 miles to the west, the city of Malatya is also in a desperate situation. Saliç Aktas Urfa, a teacher from Istanbul, immediately travelled there to help as soon as she heard about the disaster.

She knows the city well, and she describes what was a “big, developed” area.

“It’s very difficult to speak about what’s happened to Malatya”, she continued.

“When we arrived, we first saw the victims of the disaster at the airport trying to leave the area. This was really sad.

“I used to travel to Malatya regularly, it was a big city and developed city. You wouldn’t believe it is the same city now.

“We have got a new member on our team, he is from Malatya. The day before he joined us he pulled his girlfriend out of the wreckage and buried her.”

“It is unrecognisable. The streets have come down like dust, there is nothing, it’s like a ghost town.”

Saliç is working with a team of volunteers to help get food, water, and blankets to victims. She says they are working all day and going without food to make sure the people are well-fed.

Members of her team are helping others while they also mourn the loss of their own loved ones.

She added: “We have got a new member on our team, he is from Malatya. The day before he joined us he pulled his girlfriend out of the wreckage and buried her.”

Saliç warns that, while ordinary people are chipping in to help as much as they can, Turkey needs professional rescue teams and better equipment to pull people out of the wreckage.

Stories of how the earthquake in Syria played out across the world [INSIGHT]
Turkey earthquake sparks risk of diseases spreading like ‘wildfire’ [ANALYSIS]
Erdogan faces backlash after taking down Twitter over Turkey response [INSIGHT]

Similar issues are hampering rescue efforts in Hatay, also known as Antakya, in the south of Turkey, 187 miles west of the Syrian border.

The city has been one of the worst affected places in Turkey, with some saying it has been completely flattened by the earthquake.

Journalist, Adem Metan, is in Hatay. He described how “all of the buildings were destroyed, and the people who live there need help.”

He added: “Search and rescue teams went to the region to help. But there is not enough to rescue all of the people.

“It’s a big region with a lot of people. Many families have died, and lots of lives are getting harder now. There are lots of children who are now without a family, including babies.”

Emrullah, a volunteer from Adana, has also gone to Hatay to help the victims. He shared numerous images and videos showing the destruction that has been left behind by the earthquake.

In one photo, the walls of a hospital in Samandağ are badly damaged but “health workers are bravely continuing to work in there selflessly”, he added.

He shared other pictures that showed how a building had sunk into the ground. Sadly, people living on the lower floors did not survive.

Emrullah said: “Unfortunately, four bodies were pulled out of the wreckage. There are still bodies waiting to be pulled out.

“It is devastating, and unfortunately, the dead bodies under the wreckage are beginning to smell.”

In a village just outside Hatay, 35-year-old Canan Yuce speaks of her anger at the government for its lack of action prior to the disaster.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under pressure as many in the country feel support from the government did not arrive quickly enough.

Canan said: “From the second day on, people started asking ‘where is the government’ because there was not even water or aid.

“There were no search operations or rescue operations, people were left to their own devices.”

Others say the problems started long before the earthquake struck. Adnan, in Diyarbakir, said buildings in the city were not secure.

He added: “This is a systematic problem in Turkey, everyone knows that.

“The buildings were not built in the right way, nobody took care of them. Architects don’t really care about the buildings, just the money.”

Due to Erdogan’s authoritarian rule in Turkey, it is difficult for people to speak out against his government.

Naturally, the people of Turkey are still grieving, and still coming to terms with the flattening of their homes.

But each day also brings cause for optimism as people continue to be recovered from the rubble alive. Emrullah was at the scene of a rescue in Hatay, where one person was saved.

She said: “The child was talking and conscious, it was a very happy moment for everyone witnessing this.”

While the country is united in its efforts to recover, the people of Turkey are also desperate for the international community to play their part.

Multiple countries, including the UK, have sent rescue teams to help. An appeal also raised £33million for all those affected on its first day on Friday.

Saliç added: “I think Turkey will recover and rebuild, but this will take a long time.

“Lots of people are helping from all over the world. The whole country has come together. Everyone wants to help. My phone goes off all day with people offering to help or send things over.

In Diyarbakir, Adnan said it is important that the international leaders hold the Turkish government to account for their failings.

“We need other countries to understand our situation because the government here doesn’t take care of its people.”

Source: Read Full Article