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Where do I start describing the earthquake devastation I saw?

Where do I start describing the earthquake devastation I saw?

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Opinion Homeless

Monday 13 February 202305:14 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

زرت مدن الزلزال ولا أعرف من أين أبدأ بالكتابة


Twenty-four hours after the devastating earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria, a number of search and rescue teams began working in the city of Hatay. The delay in rescue work in the city accompanied a low level of hope among those who remained alive at finding survivors under the rubble, but after three days following the disaster, those sitting in front of their destroyed homes were only waiting for a miracle to save the people who were still alive under the piles of concrete.

I went to the earthquake-hit cities in southern Turkey, and I don't know where to even begin writing.

A few hours after the earthquake, I set off from Istanbul towards the city of Adana in stormy and snowy weather, and after we passed Ankara, the problem of fuel began to become apparent on the road, with queues of cars waiting for their turn at the stations. We thought that these queues were the biggest problems in terms of the lack of fuel in the cities that have been struck with disaster, but it turned out that this was just a prelude, as the stations scattered between the earthquake-hit cities were completely closed, and darkness prevailed between Hatay and Adana, and between Gaziantep and Adana. However it is necessary to say that the imminent problem of running out of fuel in the cold weather where the temperature usually drops below zero, was a minor problem in front of the horrors of what we will see next.

From Adana to Iskenderun, Hatay, and Gaziantep, the road was the harshest and access to the city seemed like a never-ending punishment; this is Hatay.

The old city of Hatay, which I remember well for its great resemblance to old Damascus, has been mostly turned into a distant memory. The interior of the city is almost completely cut off from the outside world

The highway to the city turned into a small lane in many parts, and in other parts, it was completely absent. Cars were being diverted to side streets due to the giant cracks in the main road, however, despite the heavy congestion, the road problems seemed very normal and faded to the background once we reached Hatay.

Let me describe the place. Today, Hatay is a pitch black city at night, with no electricity for lighting except for the lights used by rescue workers, whereas Hatay during the day is a pile of demolished buildings. Debris is everywhere, and people who were devastated by the disaster and driven out of their homes with only the clothes on their backs, sit in front of their destroyed buildings anxiously listening, hoping that the voices of the living will echo up from under the rubble. No one in Hatay, no one has any idea how to survive from this moment on.

The old city of Hatay, which I remember well for its great resemblance to old Damascus, has been mostly turned into a distant memory. Most of its buildings have collapsed and others have cracked, and in the midst of all that destruction, you suddenly discover that the interior of the city is almost completely cut off from the outside world, with no internet or communications there except for very short and intermittent times.

The army blends in with rescue workers, health workers and the people of the city. Everyone wants to help, everyone knows it's too late to find survivors, everyone is also walking around like they are hypnotized, not knowing where to start or what their efforts will end in.

We walked among the cries of the living, demanding urgency to rescue their loved ones stuck under the rubble, and at the same time, calling for care and caution, lest those who remain alive under the rubble be harmed. An impossible equation to solve facing everyone at every hour; this is Hatay.

Forget everything you heard about Hatay, and everything you see from behind the screen. The city is witnessing a disaster much bigger and far greater than any description. The city is in endless mourning, a grief that will not end.

In Adana, I stood in front of a completely destroyed building, and women who cried and wept hard when the rescue workers announced that there were no survivors left under the rubble. I thought that this destruction was very great, until I entered Hatay. Cities are also like humans, some are lucky ones like Adana, and some lost all luck in just a few moments as the earthquake destroyed everything.

A catastrophe befell the city, as all its buildings were damaged by the earthquake, 70% of which were severely damaged and were left unusable at any later time. In other words, they will be demolished.

My shock is not over yet, as a week after the catastrophic event, the numbers that are being talked about are still rising, and the real calamity will begin to appear, and the number of deaths will exceed all expectations, for the number of survivors in Hatay are much less than those who are missing.

Turkey was not prepared for a disaster of this magnitude, a fact that is apparent to any observer or anyone who follows the news of the earthquake, but it turns into a rude and shocking reality when one becomes involved and goes into Hatay.

Forget everything you heard about Hatay, and everything you see from behind the screen. The city is witnessing a disaster much bigger and far greater than any description. The city is in endless mourning, a grief that will not end.


* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22



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