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Türkiye’s deadly earthquake: Survivors recount horror under rubble 



“I thought I wouldn’t make it alive,” Mehmet Çiçek recalls. Çiçek, 68, was trapped in the rubble for 14 hours straight when the earthquake struck his home in the southern Turkish province of Hatay in the wee hours of Monday.

The earthquake survivor shared that the gap between his wardrobe and his bed helped him survive the dreadful tremors. Just when he felt the trembling, he jumped off his bed and knelt next to the wardrobe. He escaped the tremors unscathed as the apartment building he was living with his wife collapsed in Hatay’s central Antakya district.

It took mere seconds for their building to entirely collapse. “I was sleeping next to my wife when the earthquake began. I told her to jump to the other side, to the space next to the bed, but she apparently remained in bed,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Tuesday. He does not know what happened to her.

“I could only move my feet when I was trapped under the rubble. It is really a miracle,” he recalled. Çiçek barely moved his hands when he saw “a light” and tried to make space for himself in the debris. “I was screaming but nobody heard me. I then heard screams. Later, two young women climbed the debris as I am told. They heard me and asked me where I was. I tried to explain to them where I was,” he said, adding that the women slipped a water bottle into the narrow space where he was trapped.

“They told me they would inform the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD). But they left and did not return.” For a long time, nobody came. Çiçek recalled rainfall pouring down the debris amid freezing temperatures. “I found a pillow and closed the hole I dug to protect myself. I was always moving my fingers so I wouldn’t freeze to death. I thought I’d never make it alive. Finally, the rescue crew arrived and saved me, thank God,” he narrated his ordeal.

Ahmet Tamer is another survivor from Hatay. Now being treated for his injuries at a hospital in the central province of Aksaray, Tamer recalled how his sleep was interrupted by the earthquake and how he rushed out of his house. He was about to reach the street when his garden wall collapsed.


He endured fractures in his waist and arms. “Nobody could help others. It was constantly shaking,” he recalled the aftermath of the first earthquake. “Nobody could stand up and nobody could help me or others until about 8 a.m. (in the morning),” he recounted. His neighbors finally reached him and moved away from the wall. He said his neighbor’s three-story house entirely collapsed. “Nobody could leave it,” he lamented.

Raşit Dürmen says he fell off the bed because of the earthquake that caught him asleep like many others. The father of twins remembers he grabbed his 13-year-old daughter while his wife grabbed her twin. “I was trapped under the rubble with my daughter but we were not next to each other. We were screaming. We tried to reach each other but could not. Concrete blocks fell upon us,” he said. Neighbors heard their screams for help and pulled the family off to safety. Dürmen is now being treated for fractures in his legs while his family is recovering from injuries.

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Source: Daily Sabah

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