HomeUnited Nations1st Person: Türkiye earthquake – 60 seconds of terror

1st Person: Türkiye earthquake – 60 seconds of terror

This took us a while yet eventually we found a spot to shelter after the urgency of the second quake, within a school. Along with hundreds of other people we sat, lay down or stood on the basketball court, getting word to our households that we were safe. We are speaking with the government to see how greatest we can help. In all situations like this, the first need is just for search and rescue, and I know teams are serving into the country from across the globe to assist. There will of course be massive shelter needs – so many thousands, maybe thousands and thousands of people will be homeless as well as the weather is freezing. They will need somewhere to rest short term. And they   will require warm clothes, water, meals, heating, there will be trauma plus crush injuries, there will be massive mental scars. © UNOCHA/Ali Haj Suleiman

The search for survivors continues in Samada, Syria following the February 6 earthquake .
We spent Monday night time in a shelter run from the Government. We felt some trembles but it was comfortable and we had hot drinks and some food, as well as a spot to sleep. Now I’m at the office, catching up on everything, including the heart-breaking news that we lost a colleague. Some others are usually injured, and have lost loved ones and, in some cases, homes. Other people like my team member survived just by a miracle within Hatay.

Türkiye is of course hugely prone to earthquakes and has built a world class response mechanism. We’ve been working with them for more compared to 30 years and they are phenomenal partners. But even they will be stretched by this. This is a dual whammy – over a million people who fled the war in Syria have temporary protection status in the area hardest hit with the quake .

‘Saddening beyond words’

However checked in with work and started to assess how I could help, how I could tell them the thing that was going on, how to pay tribute to the wonderful people who were doing all they could to help me and thousands like me. It’s just completely surreal. The floor and the walls were shaking, bending, and as we ran throughout the three floors to the road our only thought had been to get far, far away through buildings.   Organizations will have been devastated: universities and hospitals will have been damaged, workplaces wiped out . The logistics of help will be fiendish – highways and runways will need to be rapidly repaired. This will be an enormous save, response and recovery operation and we are ready to respond in any way the government asks us in order to, for as long as it takes. “Like hundreds of thousands of other people in South-Eastern Türkiye I was fast asleep when the world started to tremble. I don’t really know how to describe to anyone who hasn’t sensed an earthquake, let alone one of the greatest ever recorded in this region.   It was sixty seconds of the most severe terror I have ever felt. As we calmed down a bit and realised we had survived the trembling, we also realised it had been raining, we were cold, plus our legs felt like jello, like they were not really element of our bodies. Everyone around us was calling out, yelling, screaming.  

Substantial shelter needs

IOM's Spokesperson in Gaziantep, Olga Borzenkova, preparing to bed down for the night at the IOM office. More aftershocks are expected and many buildings in the city are highly unsafe.

Olga Borzenkova, IOM spokesperson, Gaziantep,   Türkiye.

It’s saddening further than words. One minute we were resting, and the next we are portion of one of the biggest disasters on the planet. The search for survivors proceeds in Samada, Syria following a February 6 earthquake. I am screaming inside, along with despair, grief and anxiety . But I look at my colleagues, my neighbours, and my friends, who are impacted much more than me, and they inspire me to carry on.


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