When darkness falls on Antakya, earthquake survivors are on their own

When darkness falls on Antakya, earthquake survivors are on their own
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As hopes fade for those under the rubble, families who still wait for their loved ones denounce the inadequate rescue efforts.

By Osman Cakli

In Antakya, one of the areas hardest hit by the devastating earthquake in Turkey that killed more than 12,000 people, search and rescue efforts have finally been stepped up on the third day of the disaster.

Sounds of heavy equipment can be heard on the city's main artery, but the scale of destruction is so great and terrible that as the sun sets, Antakya's side streets are plunged into darkness and fear.

The only light in the side streets of Antakya are the headlights of cars or the fire lit by families waiting for their dead to warm up in front of the rubble.

antakya2.jpgHOPE FADING

Urgenpasa Neighborhood is too dramatic to be true... The ruins that can be seen with the naked eye during the day turn into a manifestation of another expression at nightfall. Families are lonely, waiting in front of the ruined houses for their relatives who lie below them. Everyone has a dark hope.

Behind the crumbling expressions of hope that the people under the rubble will come back to life, we hear the phrases "They are dead, I am sorry, their smell is coming".

Four siblings remained from a family that used to live in Celal Apartments. Some of the brothers came out of the wreckage by their own efforts. Their parents remained inside.

Their voices faded after a while.


The brothers, who have been waiting for days for help, said, "Okay, the state is very big, but even one hour is very important for us. The government officials come and go when no one is alive. Until yesterday, we heard my father's voice. They are rotting inside. Why does not anyone come?"

His next sentences are another expression of the drama: "Our relatives brought money, thank God, but the money does not arrive here. We dug for flour in the rubble, we baked bread and ate it. Where is this state?"


We can't say anything when we leave them... But they show us their hospitality by saying, "If you get cold, we are waiting for you here, you can come and warm up whenever you want," along with the cold weather...

Their last words are "They didn't come to Hatay because they don't care about this place". Then, we see corpses wrapped in blankets on the ground on the streets.

Those who gathered in the park lit a fire. We say "get well soon" and ask who they are waiting for. A person from Antep showed the wreckage behind him and said, “My cousin died there. Waiting to receive his body. I have nothing to do, nothing to say.”


The side streets of Antakya are in such a desolate state that it is difficult to photograph each one. People sit in threes or fives in front of each wreck, waiting for a voice from their relatives.

But in vain.

Because there are not enough workers, no chisel tools, no mine stakes to create living corridors, no cranes, the roads are blocked.

Outside another apartment, a young Syrian cannot leave on his own after hearing his older sister's voice. Passersby ask when they hear a noise and continue on their way. If one person survives from the rubble, 10 people come out dead... Some buildings never survive.

Silence completely dominates the streets.

We leave the streets of Antakya and climb to a relatively high point to view the city. Clouds of dust accompany the light reflected from the dark blues and reds. With the early morning hours, the sky becomes brighter and brighter. Sirens can be heard again in icy weather...