“You saw the buildings going back and forth,” says Hassan Güveli from Turkey. He tells how he found himself between two buildings during the earthquake on Monday evening. “They went back and forth, always towards each other”. He is silent for a moment. “If they had collapsed, I don’t think I would be on the line now.”
Güveli from Deventer arrived in Turkey four days ago. His employer gave him permission to travel to the affected area.
Now Güveli is helping with the final searches in the disaster area in Antakya, the center of Hatay province. “On TV you can see how bad it is of course, but if you experience it here it is completely different.”
‘They were launched by the earthquake’
Güveli was meeting in Antakya when he heard ‘snapping noises’. “We sat in a circle on the road and there were a number of soldiers six meters away from me. Three of them were launched by the earthquake, right on my lap.” He laughs in disbelief: “I’m still shaking now”.
“We held each other, cried and screamed. You heard everyone screaming. It was really scary.” Because everyone was outside, the number of injured is not too bad, says Güveli. He has heard that there are a few injured, but no deaths.
You can see from them that they are completely devastated, but they still have hope.
The earthquake was also strongly felt in northwestern Syria, not far from the epicenter. “We are all on the streets, afraid of another quake,” says journalist and activist Majd Hamo from the city of Idlib. He says people are very anxious. The previous earthquake was a traumatic experience for the Syrians, especially in the opposition area where no outside help came.
According to Hamo, the damage is not too bad and people have only been slightly injured. “A building collapsed nearby, but no one was inside,” says the Syrian journalist. The previous earthquake left many Syrians homeless and were already sleeping on the street, in tents or in cars.
‘No one is allowed into the houses’
Everyone is also on the streets in Hatay, says Güveli. According to him, no one is allowed to enter the buildings anymore and soldiers are closely monitoring. “After the earthquake, people immediately wanted to go into the houses to take things out, but that was not allowed. They were immediately sent away. That is really not possible here. Nobody can enter the houses at the moment.”
Tomorrow Güveli will continue in the disaster area. He will work until Friday, then two days of ‘compulsory rest’. He will then be deployed again for five days. Noises were heard in a building in his neighborhood yesterday, two weeks after the earthquake. It is now being searched for with sound and heat meters. “It’s really a miracle if anyone comes out alive.”
The organization of aid is getting better and better, says Güveli. “But people are having a very hard time here, some have lost their entire family. Güveli himself helped yesterday at a house in the center of Hatay, where a boy lost his father, mother, brothers, uncle, aunt, nephews and nieces.” You can see that they are completely broken, but they still have hope.”
That hope keeps people going, says Güveli. “But that quake just now, it gave everyone a fright again.”
- Border region between Turkey and Syria again hit by powerful quake