After Turkey’s earthquake, one family grieves and prepares for more

The Mariner’s Boathouse & Beach Resort in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., and Lebanon, during Monday’s 6.3-magnitude earthquake

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Rescuers from Florida Task Force 2 went door to door after Ian to see if there were any still standing. They had to make sure they didn’t miss anyone who was still waiting to be rescued and someone who had died.

“Fire department!” Noel Armas, a rescue squad officer, yelled as he banged on doors at the Mariner’s Boathouse & Beach Resort, on the mangled island’s southern end, which had not been hit as hard as other parts. “Anybody need assistance?”

He put his ear to the window of one unit, fearing that an older person, or someone who was injured or unable to move easily, might be stuck inside and in need of help. Down the hall, Vincent Pangallo, a rescue specialist, clanged on the elevator doors with a huge metal hammer, to make sure no one was stuck.

Monday’s earthquake, which the U.S. Geological Survey reported as magnitude 6.3, also shook Syria, where a rescue group reported injuries from falling debris, and Lebanon.

Lindsay Davis, an earthquake disaster assistance team manager, said that “Events like this are devastating and remind us of the significance of scientific research and the importance of sharing knowledge to establish best practices.”

Syria’s earthquake-damaged buildings have been retrofitted: a geogeology professor’s comment on the situation along the East Anatolian fault

Most of Turkey sits on the Anatolian plate between two major faults: the North Anatolian Fault and the East Anatolian Fault. Turkey is being squeezed out towards the west by the southward movement of the plate that carries Arabia, including Syria, says David Rothery, a geology Professor in the Open University. “Turkey is moving west about 2 centimetres per year along the East Anatolian Fault,” he adds. The length of the fault has been lit up by earthquakes.

The country’s building construction needed to be retrofitted after two major earthquakes struck in 1999 and 2011.

In a study published last March Arzu Arslan Kelam at the Middle East Technical University suggested that the center of Gaziantep could experience moderate damage from a magnitude- 6.5 earthquake. Most of the buildings are low-rise brick structures that are very close to each other.

More than eleven years of conflict in Syria has resulted in building standards being impossible to enforce. The earthquake struck Syria’s northwestern regions, with buildings collapsing in Aleppo and Idlib. Some war-damaged buildings in Syria have been rebuilt using low-quality materials or “whatever materials are available”, says Rothery. “They might have fallen down more readily than things that were built at somewhat greater expense. We have not yet found out, he says.

The Girl’s Case in the Kahramanmaras Disaster Management Area, where Emergency Housing is Needed to Assist in Resuscitate

Even though experts say trapped people can live for a week or more, the odds of finding more survivors were quickly waning amid freezing temperatures. Rescuers were shifting to thermal cameras to help identify life amid the rubble, a sign that any remaining survivors could be too weak to call for help.

The pink blanketed girl’s body was recovered from the ruins of a Turkish building on Wednesday. She is one of the many young people who have died from Monday’s massive earthquake.

A man in his 40s is believed to be a Syrian refugee and his body was dug out by excavators, who found he was lying on a mattress.

In a neighboring building, also collapsed, rescuers were digging down from the top to try to reach one or possibly two people thought to be alive. A generator was brought up to power a pneumatic hand-operated drill; the man directing it cleared away the rubble with his bare hands.

He appeared to have spotted signs of life beneath the wreckage, but rescuers sent away a waiting ambulance, saying there was still a lot of work to do.

The man volunteering at a hospital in Kahramanmaras told CNN there were over 300 bodies in the morgue that were not collected by relatives because of the death of their loved one.

Turkey continues to reel in grief, and as the death toll climbs, the president has traveled to the Kahramanmaras region to inspect the damage for himself.

He went to an emergency relief area set up by the country’s disaster management agency. Row after row of shining white tents could be seen in the sports stadium, destined to house some of the thousands of families who’ve lost their homes.

In a presentation to the public from the relief center, Erdogan said the government planned to rebuild the Kahramanmaras region in one year, and people would get help with emergency housing.

Turkey’s President said that citizens can’t stay on the streets. “Our state is using all its resources with AFAD and municipalities. We will continue to do so.”

He acknowledged the government’s initial response “had some problems” in terms of natural gas supply and roads, but said the situation was “under control.” The 10,000 Turkish liras (around $531 United States) the government is planning to give will go to families impacted.

Eruptive collapse of buildings in Islahiye, the town’s Great Garden, and the area around the Hac Ali ztrk mosque

At the bottom of the city, many people could be heard crying and lamenting by the tumbled buildings where they or their relatives lived until disaster struck.

A handful clutched photographs of loved ones who are under the rubble, less in hope of their rescue than as an act of remembrance – holding out snaps of their children or wedding pictures and saying “they are gone.”

A three-month state of emergency has been declared in 10 Turkish provinces, and aid agencies have warned of “catastrophic” repercussions in northwest Syria, where millions of vulnerable and displaced people were already relying on humanitarian support.

Dozens of buildings in Islahiye have collapsed. There are a group of residential buildings just west of the Hac Ali ztrk mosque flattened.

The debris of those two buildings, four and six stories tall, litter the street. One of the roofs appears to remain intact, despite the building underneath collapsing.

The town’s “Great Garden,” normally a green space with benches and shops, is now full of tents because of the earthquake.

At least two large high-rise buildings, located just south of the park, have collapsed. The northern part of the park has also collapsed.

Vehicles are seen in the area. Like in other parts of the Nurdagi, some of the buildings that are still standing have a significant amounts of debris surrounding them.

Survival in a disaster-driven city: An active soldier in Antakya and his frustrations with the government and the civilians of Turkey

“There’s nothing for us here to eat,” says a soldier in his mid-20s named Faris, who fled from the hard-hit city of Antakya. There’s no electricity, no heat, and no gas. We don’t have money or any of our cards.”

The active member of the Turkish military is still allowed to criticize the government if he chooses, however he only wants to be identified by his first name.

Many hundreds of people from villages surrounding Gaziantep and Hatay are in these camps. Entire streets and neighborhoods in small satellite districts have collapsed into rubble.

Ozgur is a rescue worker in the village of Nurdagi and he says his team can’t find anyone alive under the rubble. He works in construction for a large holding company and asks to only be identified by his first name for fear of reprisal for providing assistance without direct government approval.

He is pointing to a collapsed building in front of him and says there are about 30 to 40 people under it. “But none of them are going to come out alive.”

Crowded into white tents set up by Turkey’s disaster and emergency relief arm, known by the acronym AFAD, families of eight or more are sleeping on foam mattresses on the ground. The clothes they wore when the earthquake struck were wrapped and donated blankets were used to keep the family warm.

AFAD has said it has deployed dozens of food trucks and hundreds of thousands of meals, but opposition politicians and members of the public have widely condemned the organization’s response.

Turkey-Earthquake Gaziantep Displaced-People (PKK): A Case Study with a Kurdish Migrant Family

Faris says his family can barely even access the bathrooms for the lines, because there are not enough facilities in the municipal stadium for the hundreds of people temporarily staying there.

He and his mother, three sisters and brother are covered in wounds from falling rubble, and all have deep purple circles under their eyes. Their hands are covered in deep gashes from where they dug each other out from their collapsed home, their feet cut from when they finally made it out and had to find their way through the rubble in the cold without shoes.

They were told by police that they could find shelter and sustenance in Gaziantep, which was why they had to evacuate. Faris is very sad about the decision to come.

There, several Kurdish migrant families have set up the tents they usually use during the planting season. Genco Demir, who organized his community’s move to this field, says he and other farmers have been abandoned by the government. They say that no one has come to inspect or repair their homes in the impoverished area of Sekiz Subat because of the earthquake.

Hayat Gezer, a 45-year-old woman with a traditional Kurdish tattoo on her chin and a black headscarf, says the group is grappling with the additional stress of legal problems. She says that many of their community members have been imprisoned for crimes including theft and aiding and abetting terrorism.

The Turkish government has been involved in a four-decade-long conflict with the PKK in southeastern Turkey. This has led to persecution of many Kurds for alleged links to the group.


The rescue of the Narli family from a ruined village on the border of Gaziantep province: A desperate cry of desperation

The desperation in this camp is clear. A young man tried to take bread from his neighbor’s tent and there was a violent fight that followed. Demir has to hold the young man back.

Hunger and cold have helped make those in the AFAD camp highly critical of the Turkish government. A soldier by the name of Faris insists he never will vote for another president, after voting for him in the past.

The death toll from Friday’s earthquake in Turkey and Syria has ballooned to over 25,000 as rescue crews continued to pull survivors from the rubble on Saturday.

The rescue of the Narli family in central Kahramanmaras, which was broadcast on Turkish television, took 133 hours to complete. First, Nehir was saved and then both of her parents.

The family of five were rescued from a mound of rubble in the town of Nurdagi in Gaziantep province. Rescuers shouted “God is Great!”. as the last family member, the father, was lifted to safety.

“In some parts of our settlements close to the fault line, we can say that almost no stone was left standing,” he said earlier Saturday from Diyarbakir.

The rescue of a 3-year-old girl and a girl injuring another in the aftermath of Monday’s earthquake and collapsed buildings in Antakya, Iraq

A woman in her 20’s was saved from the rubble of a building in Elbistan after another person was rescued at the same location within an hour. Police told people not to clap or cheer in order to not interfere with other rescue efforts nearby. She was covered in a thermal blanket on a stretcher. Rescuers were hugging. Some people shouted that God is great.

Just an hour earlier, a 3-year-old girl and her father were pulled from debris in the town of Islahiye, also in Gaziantep province, and soon after a 7-year-old girl was rescued in the province of Hatay.

The rescues brought shimmers of joy amid overwhelming devastation days after Monday’s 7.8-magnitude quake and a powerful aftershock hours later caused thousands of buildings to collapse, killing more than 25,000, injuring another 80,000 and leaving millions homeless.

Not everything ended so well. Rescuers reached a 13-year-old girl inside the debris of a collapsed building in Hatay province early Saturday and intubated her. She died before the medical teams could free her, Hurriyet newspaper reported.

As aid continued to arrive, a group of 99 members from the Indian Army’s medical assistance team started to treat patients in a temporary field hospital in Iskenderun, where a main hospital was demolished.

Wincing in pain, he said he had been rescued from his collapsed apartment building in the nearby city of Antakya within hours of the quake on Monday. But after receiving basic first aid, he was released without getting proper treatment for his injuries.


The First Day of Construction in the Antakya Cemetery: A Search for Refugees in Turkey’s Northern Residual Region

I buried everyone that I lost, then I came here. Canbulat said, counting his dead relatives: “My daughter is dead, my sibling died, my aunt and her daughter died, and the wife of her son” who was 8 ½ months pregnant.

A large makeshift graveyard was under construction on the outskirts of Antakya on Saturday. Backhoes and bulldozers dug pits in the field on the northeastern edge of the city as trucks and ambulances loaded with black body bags arrived continuously. Soldiers directing traffic on the busy adjacent road warned motorists not to take photographs.

A worker with Turkey’s Ministry of Religious Affairs who did not wish to be identified because of orders not to share information with the media said that around 800 bodies were brought the cemetery on Friday, its first day of operation. He claimed that as many as 2,000 had been buried by noon on Saturday.

Temperatures remained below freezing across the large region, and many people have no shelter. The Turkish government has distributed millions of hot meals, as well as tents and blankets, but is still struggling to reach many people in need.

The Syrians have been affected by the civil war that has left millions of people in the country dependent on aid. The fighting sent millions more to seek refuge in Turkey.

President Bashar Assad and his wife have visited injured quake victims in a hospital in the coastal city of Latakia, a base of support for the Syrian leader.

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, arrived in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo on Saturday, bringing with him 35 tons of medical equipment, state news agency SANA reported. He said another plane carrying more equipment will arrive in the next few days.

The total death toll in Syria’s northwestern rebel-held region has reached 2,166 many of them women and children. The death toll was 21,043 in Turkey and 3,553 in Syria through Saturday.

A family from Colaklar, Turkey, who were crushed during the September 11 earthquakes to become a hospitalized person: A search for a family living under the rubble

The rest of the family arrived last Tuesday, including cousins, the Sonmez family, from the village of Colaklar. The first teams to respond to the earthquake started recovering dead and alive more than a day later. They picked through concrete and the remnants of people’s lives — curtains, carpets, bright green couches — and finally found Derya Demir and her children.

In the final moments of their lives, crushed under the weight of their shoddily built apartment block, Demir and her sons and daughters had all been close to each other.

Looking at the ruins of the apartment building, Demir’s youngest sister, Melike Bayar, 34, can’t stop crying. Their mother and sister are still under the rubble. They have yet to be found. Kamil survived the earthquake because he was in a hospital for treatment of his glomerulonephritis.

Younger relatives, including 26-year-old Mehmet Gezici and his wife, Zinan Gezici, 23, who flew in from Paris to help after the quake, are less optimistic. They don’t believe Sakine and Semra are alive.

Many blame the scale of the tragedy on a construction industry that runs on corruption and a lack of implemented regulations. At least a dozen building contractors have been arrested by the Turkish government for their alleged role in the deaths.

On Saturday, Garo Paylan, a representative of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party, sent a message out from the city of Adyman, which is one of the places devastated by the earthquake, which he said the government was under counting. There are as many as 200,000 people who could be under the rubble. Search teams in both Turkey and Syria believe the hope of recovering people alive at this point is slim.

Four days after an earthquake caused a family’s apartment building to fall on them in Islahiye, a man with dust-encrusted hair asked the cop why he was in the town. He had told the same Gendarme that he had heard sounds on the first, second, and third days, but they had not heard anything. The inspector said there were 6,000 other districts like yours. There were many other districts, and many other buildings. We were assigned eight of the Sehit Zafer Yilmaz apartments, which were among 140 other buildings in Islahiye, when we were there.

The first winch, needed to lift concrete, arrived Wednesday, but could only lift 100 tons. The second came Saturday, six days after the earthquake. Volunteer crews only made it down from the sixth floor to the third floor in a week.

Derya and Hidayet Demir’s four young children from Colaklar, Oklahoma, after the quake hit

Members of Derya Demir’s family, all Kurdish and originally from the nearby town of Colaklar, have been here since last Monday, shortly after the quake hit. Her brother, Hidayet, 45, who is in the middle of the six other brothers, was the first to arrive.

When asked how he is doing, he says, “Incredibly badly,” speaking in a shocked monotone. He sees his sister and mother in the collapsed building as he speaks.

People told Hidayet that they had heard children’s screams from the direction of the apartment. The family thinks the children were alive for some time after the earthquake. They think help came too little, too late.

As they wait for crews to find their mother and sister, they hold each other as they warm themselves around a fire that’s been burning for a week next to the site.

They try to share their happy memories and talk about their loved ones in the present tense. The four young children, and Derya, Sakine, and Semra — all, in their telling, still exist.

A 1.2 TeV earthquake in Turkey’s Altnozu district, the third largest earthquake in the world and its consequences for search and rescue

Remarkable footage of the split olive grove has emerged from Turkey’s south-east Altınozu district, which borders Syria, showing a jagged, sandy-colored, canyon-like chasm. The hole is over 130 feet deep.

Irfan Aksu, who lives in the neighborhood, told Turkish news agency Demioren News Agency that when the earthquake started last Monday it created “an incredible sound” where he lived.

He urged experts to check the area for future damage. He said that there are 1000 houses and 7000 people in the town. We are scared, but it could have happened in the middle of our town.

The strongest earthquake anywhere in the world was recorded on Monday when it hit a region near the South Sandwich Islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

A lot of factors made this earthquake so lethal. One of them is the time of day it occurred. With the quake hitting early in the morning, many people were in their beds when it happened, and are now trapped under the rubble of their homes.

“The people who are going to have the most effect on the rescue is going to be your neighbors. Because they’re the ones right there, right when it happens,” Forrest Lanning told NPR. He’s a liaison for earthquakes and volcanic activity with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Training people to respond when official rescuers can’t is one of the ways emergency response experts say is necessary to save the most lives.

The increasing death toll in Turkey and Syria shows how important search and rescue is within the first day or two.

The window of time to save people trapped in collapsed buildings is over and done by the time you get around day four or five, Lanning said.

Natalie Simpson is the professor and chair of operations management and strategy at the University at Buffalo School of Management and she said bystanders can still help responders to locate people who have been trapped in rubble.

“It takes a long time at each building, to have to listen and carefully remove pieces of the building debris to get to people,” Lanning said. And with the scene in Turkey “there’s thousands and thousands of these buildings,” he added.

International teams can take between 24 to 48 hours to arrive, making this even more important. There aren’t enough local search and rescue teams to respond to each collapsed building.

Knowing the importance of quick, local aid, the Community Emergency Response Team was developed in the U.S. It’s a FEMA program that trains volunteers across all 50 states with basic disaster response skills.

It teaches people what to do after a major earthquake, where to get water after an emergency, how to check on immobile neighbors, and how to search collapsed buildings, Lanning said.

The Earthquake in Turkey and Syria Offers Less Than It Did Last Last Minute, and Why it’s Always Happening Now, but It’s Not Happening Today

The number of search and rescue teams on the scene is one of the many factors that can affect how likely a trapped person is to survive. According to him, if a person is uninjured and only has a few injuries, they can live under a collapsed building for a week.

Simpson with the University at Buffalo said she wishes each time disaster strikes there would be an immediate mobilization of rescue crews and military. It wasn’t always the case in Turkey or Syria, she said.

Simpson said failure to pick up on the fact that this is an emergency is the biggest failure in emergency response. The instinct is to wait to get more information.

You’re no longer in Kansas because of all of the emergency situations, she said. “These are not normal conditions and so one of the traps that we fall into is, ‘Oh God, what’s the best thing to do at this moment?’ Stop it with ‘best.’ It’s all good. Let’s get moving.”

In many areas around the world, including Turkey, the military is best equipped to operate in a disaster-transformed landscape and to open airstrips to get aid in quickly, she said.

The Turkish government did not immediately mobilize its military to aid in the rescue effort or establish those important field hospitals, according to an analysis published by the Middle East Institute.

It’s never too early to use your large-scale response when you can’t get any information out of the region, she said. I think that that will make a difference to the decision-makers and the people in the future.

Lanning said this latest disaster hammers home how important it is for global communities in earthquake-prone areas to strengthen infrastructure to withstand a disaster like the one in Turkey and Syria.

“A lot of the damage in that area is due to the type of construction and the types of buildings that they are constructed in,” said Lanning who has been working for 15 years in various earthquake-prone areas.

Despite the fact that concrete buildings aren’t the best at withstanding earthquakes, this is still happening. They are very easy to construct and can easily hide imperfections, he said.


The earthquake-survivor islahiye: a story of a boy and his mom trapped under a wall that fell onto a refrigerator

The work to analyze the latest disaster and what went wrong will come in the following months and years. But it’s incredibly valuable work, Lanning said.

A tipped wall creating a small cavity is one way several lucky people managed to stay alive under the rubble after last week’s massive earthquake and aftershocks.

They were trapped by a wall that fell on to the bed, creating a small triangle that protected them.

Osman Turk says that there is a space for people to live, as a response specialist for Turkey’s National Medical Rescue Team.

In one case, he says, a wall fell onto a refrigerator, giving a 7-year-old girl a protective space — and food — to survive for four days before she was rescued.

Ali Kafadenk said “That was the only option.” There will be something that will fall on our heads at any moment and this will be the end.

He covered his wife with the bedcovers, and threw himself over her to protect her. They prayed and cried together. “We were saying to each other that we came from God. We will go back to our creator.

There was an opening in the wall. It was too dirty to see anything but he felt the cold air. He heard his neighbors’ screams. My baby’s stuck here. There is something stuck to my leg. My mom is under here. My dad’s over there.

“He said, ‘I have seven children who are stuck under the rubble over there. I tried to help you after I heard you. I came to help you. But now I need to go and deal with my children,'” Ali recalls.

In the nine days after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, Kafadenk is in the disaster zone with his brother and trying to retrieve his registration papers from his car that was buried. It’s the first time he’s returned to the ruins of his home.


Three dead after a collapse of a building: Merve Soylu’s boyfriend, the mayor and his wife Merve Oktay

Merve teaches kindergarten through fourth grade. They’ve tried calling their colleagues but can’t reach them. He thinks they are no longer alive.

After trying for a long time, he finally got accepted to teach in a school that pays more for his time than he used to make.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said at least six were trapped when several buildings collapsed Monday. He said those killed were from the cities of Antakya, Defne and Samandag.

TRT broadcasted live footage of rescue crews operating at a collapsed building in Antakya, one of the worst hit cities by the February 6 earthquake. It said residents were recovering belongings from their building — damaged in the Feb. 6 earthquake — when it collapsed after the ground shook again on Monday.

“Don’t enter damaged buildings,” Oktay warned in a televised statement. Think about your family and friends. You should think about your nation. Don’t worry about your possessions, they’re replaceable.

Turkey’s public broadcaster aired a video it said was of a person crying out for help after he tried to rescue a cat from a damaged building and got caught in debris when Monday’s earthquake struck.

Organizing Neighborhood Search and Rescue Teams to Help in the First Hours of Earthquake Season: A case study in Gaziantep Baklava

At a Gaziantep baklava restaurant, patrons on the second floor calmly walked outside and a chandelier swung lightly. A waiter’s family left their home and went to a restaurant to sleep.

I joined an organization that trains volunteers for neighborhood search and rescue teams to ensure that each neighborhood has people who know what to do in the first hours of a disaster. An organization born out of the shared belief that when the next earthquake struck, we’d have only one another to rely on, and here we were.

When an earthquake hits at night, the usual approach is to try to reach the bedrooms first, but the Sehit Zafer Yilmaz apartments folded like a book: An upstairs bathroom spilled into a downstairs balcony, and a kitchen floor dangled above our heads. So we began to dig at random. We were a loud mess of gendarmerie, miners, construction workers, police, municipal workers, local volunteers and searchers and rescuers, with our jackhammers, hydraulic cutters, shovels, grinder machines, excavator and crane, each of us answering to a different team leader, all of us balancing on a precarious mound of twisted metal and concrete that could tumble at the next aftershock.

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