For Irmak, 15, Mesut Hancer’s daughter, it’s too late: the big guy has grabbed the hand of his dead child who is emerging, inert, between two concrete slabs.
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With a blank stare, he hugs her without saying a word.
Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook southern and southeastern Turkey on Monday, is only ruins and desolation. But no help, no relief arrived Tuesday in this devastated city of more than a million inhabitants, located in the southern part of Cappadocia.
Here, as in Hatay, further south, the ancient Antioch at the gates of Syria, frustration and resentment are building up towards the absent state.
In “Maras”, Ali Sagiroglu has been waiting for reinforcements for two days, still hoping to see his brother and nephew, trapped in the rubble of their building.
The eight buildings of the Ebrar city in the city center literally collapsed on themselves. It was 4am, very few of the sleepers were able to get out of their floors in time – about ten per building.
“Where is the state? Where is he ? Look around you. There isn’t a single official, good God. It’s been two days and we haven’t seen anyone. They didn’t even bring a brick. The children froze to death,” protests Ali.
The previous night, the evening of the disaster, the blizzard mixed with driving rain enveloped the survivors in a damp cold.
Without even a tent to protect themselves, those who have a car spent the night inside, the others huddled around braziers in the street.
“Yesterday morning we could still hear the voices calling for help in the ruins, but they were silent. People probably froze to death,” concludes a forty-year-old seeking help – and who refused to be identified.
According to him at least 150 people remained stuck in each building of the Ebrar city.
In the devastated streets, the survivors wait next to the bodies of their loved ones, rolled up in a blanket. No one comes to pick them up.
In Cuma Yildiz, anger disputes it with grief: “Where are they? They talk, they talk, they fight like dogs, but where are they now?” he says in tears, referring to the absence of the authorities.
“Don’t you fear God? Have you no pity? No sympathy? Why don’t you come here?”.
As if to deny it, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu made an appearance Tuesday in Kahramanmaras and assured that a total of 2,000 rescuers had been deployed in the disaster areas to date.
Faced with growing frustration, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who declared a state of emergency in the affected provinces on Tuesday – took refuge behind “the experts”: “They say there is no precedent in the world for this earthquake”.
The official toll rose Tuesday to more than 3,500 dead for Turkey and 1,500 in neighboring Syria.
Faced with the magnitude of the disaster, these shocks of incredible violence coupled with a cold snap, the State seems paralyzed.
In Hatay, much further south, but just as drowned in hail and torrential rain the first night, the survivors were left in the same abandonment.
Distress has invaded the population: Onur Kayai, 40, paces in front of his ruined building, begging someone to come and help his mother and brother.
With his bare hands, he tried several times to free them: “I moved three stones above my brother’s head, but it’s too hard. My mother’s voice is still clear, but I no longer hear my brother’s.
“I don’t see any help. I looked for Afat cars (emergency relief, editor’s note). But some say his building also collapsed.
Wherever the gaze arises, it is desolation, testifies the AFP team. No help, no food, no communications. People are forced to fend for themselves.
Semire Coban, a 45-year-old kindergarten teacher desperately chases the two teams of local rescue workers she has spotted. Three of his relatives, including a nephew, are buried.
“But (rescuers) prefer to concentrate where you can still hear voices in the ruins.”
However, Semire’s family no longer responds.
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