A man stands in front of the flattened remains of a 10-story building in Gaziantep, Turkey, anxiously waiting for news of his friend Mustafa, who is trapped under the rubble.
Alptekin Talanci fears this week’s bitter weather, which has seen temperatures drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, could jeopardize his friend’s chances.
“The conditions are so bad that even if he can survive (the fall), because of the cold, the hypothermia… I can’t believe he can do it,” Talancy said Tuesday.
Rescuers share his concern. Authorities are racing against the clock to pull survivors from the rubble of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck early Monday morning, destroying thousands of buildings in Turkey and Syria.
Rescue efforts are likely to be complicated by the possibility that more buildings could collapse, as dozens of aftershocks hit the area after Monday’s quake.
More than 7,000 people have been killed in the two countries, and Talensi says Mustafa’s survival would be nothing short of a miracle.
“We’re just praying and that’s all I can say,” Talancy said.
Nearby residents who have lost everything huddle in blankets, passing bowls of soup around small fires. They are also waiting for news of survivors.
A sense of hopelessness is overshadowed on their faces in the midst of severe cold.
At another destroyed building in Ibrahimili, a suburb of Gaziantep, rescue workers slowly make their way down a hill of broken concrete. The sound of drills and mechanized digging equipment echoes throughout the area.
There a distraught mother waits for news of her child, who was buried under the rubble of a seven-story building. She shows pictures of rescuers, hoping they can find the child.
Of the 15 people in the apartment block when it collapsed, only three have been rescued.
Grief is everywhere. A man cried outside another destroyed building saying his parents were trapped inside.
“This is the situation, which is the same for all,” he said in a desolate tone.
At Gaziantep airport on Tuesday, hundreds of people waited for flights to resume. Turkey is used to natural disasters, but Monday’s earthquake, one of the most powerful of the past century, shook the nation to its core. More aftershocks may still come.
A 28-year-old woman, who declined to give her name, said she and her boyfriend spent Monday night in their car, hoping to catch a rescue flight to Istanbul.
They were lucky; Their building did not fall. But the woman said she was too scared to return to the structure after Monday’s violent tremors left the structure “massively cracked”.
All he has is a large bag, which contains identification material, his laptop and some personal belongings.
“It feels surreal. In fact, I can’t believe we got through it and survived, when you look at all the damage it caused,” she said.
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