Affected reports about the severe earthquake in Turkey
Mr H., you come from the difficult of several earthquake affected area in Turkey. How are you doing?
(with a cracked voice) I am grateful that my family and I made it out alive. I have two children. We are now safe in Kayseri province. We actually live in Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the first quake was only 20 kilometers away from where I work.
How did you experience the earthquake?
I was awake anyway, one of my kids hasn’t slept for days. I had just put it back to bed. At quarter past four, when it was finally asleep, I felt a slight tremor. Suddenly I saw a flash of light and heard a loud noise – like a bomb about to explode. The first tremor lasted 25 to 40 seconds. The second, shortly after, was a lot longer, I think a minute and a half. The children fell out of their beds. During the first tremor, I clung to a shelf, afraid it might fall on her. During the second tremor I lay protectively over my children.
Were you able to escape outside afterwards?
The second tremor wedged the door. Our neighbors tried to free us from outside. I tried it from the inside with tools. During this time there was another strong aftershock. I was afraid we wouldn’t survive. I had already said goodbye to my wife. Aftershocks continued until morning. Even when we drove to Kayseri later, the earth kept shaking.
When did you get help?
In the first five or six hours there was hardly any help, neither to rescue the buried nor the dead. In the morning at 8.30 a.m. the fire brigade came and took us away through a tunnel at the entrance to the town that they were able to open. We saw the extent of the destruction. It was like the whole province had been wiped out.
Can you describe to us in more detail what it looked like in your city?
The tremors have leveled many things to the ground. The apartments across the street are all empty. There were also fires in some houses. Electricity and water supplies are no longer available, and equipment to clean up the rubble is lacking. Winter and rain make the situation even worse. Anyone lying under the rubble freezes and gets wet. A hospital was literally split in two.
Have you ever experienced an earthquake before?
There were always smaller earthquakes, with a magnitude of 3 to 4. I expected the earth to tremble again. So I had bought walkie-talkies and a whistle so we could communicate and get help in an emergency. My wife is also a nurse. But none of that worked. Nobody expected that there would be such strong earthquakes.
Do you have other relatives in the region?
No, fortunately not. My job brought us there. But friends of mine had to be rescued from rubble.
You had to leave your home in a hurry. What do you need right now?
My family and I are safe now. But I worry for anyone who hasn’t made it out yet. Many are alone. You need urgent help, ambulance, everything that is possible. It needs warm drinks and food. And tents. There are still children, pregnant women. There is a lack of medication. So many things are missing, including warm shoes for children. But the rescuers have to be careful, there are still aftershocks.
Our interlocutor asked to remain anonymous for professional reasons.