Turkey-Syria earthquake: Anger and frustration as search for trapped relatives continues – ‘we’re being left to die’ | World News
The people of Antakya are not only desperate, but there is real anger here.
“We are being left to die,” one woman shouted as residents used their bare hands to move rubble and rocks.
We see others using hammers and picks, any tool they can get their hands on, to try to reach loved ones they say are buried below and who may still be alive.
Death toll reaches 5,000 – as patient dies in hospital ‘forgotten’ – latest update
Another woman, Cagla Ezer, sobbed as she revealed that she had heard her brother cry for help. She said he was calling her name and begging for help.
“There were 25 people in that building alone,” she said, pointing to an apartment block with pancakes. “I tried to call AFAD [Turkey’s emergency co-ordination group] But no one came.”
Not far away, a row of people were crawling through a broken window of a supermarket and loading shopping carts full of merchandise.
Lots of food in trolleys, chocolate bars, ready-made meals and snacks – but we see a man bring out a new television.
Others crawled out with large rolls of toilet paper. “We were hungry,” one young man told us, “and no one helped us”.
It’s a common theme here with resident after resident protesting to us over what they see as a lack of government action here.
Mayor Hatay belongs to the main opposition party and has been vocal in criticizing government policies in the weeks before the earthquake that the area was not adequately prepared for a disaster like this.
Now people are constantly telling us that they feel abandoned and disappointed by their government.
One resident calling himself Tahir said he traveled repeatedly from Bulgaria to help with relief efforts.
He was shocked to see very little organized emergency work in Hatay.
“Everybody here is angry,” he said. “We don’t need words – we need help!”
The women cried next to him because of sadness, of regret, but also of disappointment. “They will be here soon when there is an election,” one of the men moving the wreckage told us.
WHO warns the death toll could rise to more than 20,000
Volunteers dig with their bare hands when they hear screams among the rubble
Pictures of the scene before and after the disaster
An election has been called by President Erdogan on May 14 amid soaring inflation and global economic difficulties and is widely expected to be one of the closest in years.
Hatay has a large refugee population and its proximity to Syria has seen many flee across the border to seek refuge here.
There are many poor households here and many old buildings. “Why aren’t buildings built better?” Tahir asked us. “Why do we put money before life?”
There were glimmers of hope. We saw a small baby being taken to a waiting ambulance, who was given intravenous fluids and a few minutes later his mother, wearing a neck brace and groaning softly, was also carried on a stretcher to safety.
But those moments went beyond the heartbreak of watching groups burst into tears and howl in grief as body after body was pulled out and placed on top of the rubble that fell on top of them.
Among them were very young children – children whose lives ended too soon and too suddenly.
However, even as the region enters a second day after what has been described as Turkey worst earthquake disaster in a century, and amid constant tremors and aftershocks, their loved ones desperately cling to the tiniest hope that somehow their loved ones they may still be alive.
Occasionally, a lifeguard will call for silence and crowds of onlookers, friends and loved ones stand still, their ears stinging at the faintest cry.
“We heard him. Yes, yes, yes, we heard him,” Cagla said of his brother.
But the tears rolling down her cheeks show her realization that while hope is still abundant, time is still very short.