Turkey victims buried under rubble plead for help on social media
Thousands of messages on social media platforms appeal for earthquake rescues with some people pulled from the debris after posting.
Search-and-rescue efforts continue in southeastern Turkey as workers race against time to reach victims buried under debris after the region was hit by a series of powerful earthquakes.
The magnitude-7.8 and -7.6 quakes happened only hours apart on Monday and brought down entire apartment blocks in multiple cities. The death toll has exceeded 5,400 in Turkey and 1,800 in neighbouring Syria.
Following the disaster, throngs of trapped victims utilised social media to reach out for help and pinpoint their locations for rescuers.
Firat Yayla, a YouTuber known as Charmquell, was one of them.
He said in a video posted on his Instagram Stories early on Tuesday after the first earthquake he was stuck under the rubble in the central Antakya district of Hatay province, and pleaded with his followers to save him.
“Friends, we are stuck under the earthquake,” he said in the video shot in a dark space. “Mother! Are you okay? Mother! Tell me you hid somewhere. Please help!” he added before ending the video with his home address.
He updated his Instagram later saying he had been saved, but his mother remained under the concrete.
A young man in another video trapped under debris in Iskenderun district of Hatay shared his address and said, “If you love your God, please come and save us.”
The video was widely shared on Twitter.
Hatay is one of the Turkish provinces worst hit by the disaster. The airport is damaged and closed, making it harder for aid and rescue teams to reach the flattened city.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority said 5,775 buildings had been destroyed in the quake, and more than 20,400 people were injured.
Rocked while sleeping
Boran Kubat, a 20-year-old who studies in Istanbul, was visiting relatives in Malatya city when the second earthquake hit his family home.
Kubat said they entered the apartment after the first quake, thinking it was safe, but were caught by the second while sleeping.
He asked for help in a video message posted on social media from under his fallen home where he was trapped with his mother, grandmother, and two uncles.
“Everyone who sees this please come and help us. Now, everyone come to help us!” he said, describing his address in detail.
He said friends immediately reacted and he and his family were rescued.
More than 12,000 Turkish search-and-rescue personnel are working in the affected areas, along with 9,000 troops. Some 70 countries and sending personnel, equipment and aid.
A man with the Twitter handle Can Turker posted a message on Monday to followers while tagging Turkish government officials. He, his wife, and baby were stuck in The Liwan Hotel in Antakya.
“The stairs collapsed, we are stuck on the third floor. We are still shaking. Please help,” he pleaded.
Can Turker tweeted the next day saying he was saved by his friends without any help from rescue teams.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who called it the largest disaster to hit Turkey since a 1938 earthquake in the Elazig province killed more than 33,000 people – declared on Wednesday a three-month state of emergency in the 10 areas hit.
More than 8,000 people have been pulled from the debris in Turkey alone.
But tens of thousands of others are estimated to be stuck under masses of flattened buildings, and many in southeastern Turkey have complained rescue efforts cannot meet the scale of the disaster.
Although there have been lucky people who posted their situation on social media and were rescued, countless messages are still on the internet appealing for assistance – either for themselves under collapsed buildings, or for loved ones who cannot be reached.
It is difficult to know how the situation turned out for most.