Nasser Abdallah, had a fully furnished apartment to his name barely 24 hours ago, but he is currently living in a park along with many colleagues who have been barred from their ravaged residences.
Abdallah is a Ghanaian student studying in Turkey, he is resident in the city of Adana, located 150 miles from Gazientep – the city closest to the epicentre of the February 6, 2023 earthquake that struck much of southern Turkey and northern Syria.
He shared a firsthand experience of how the double quake hit his city, coping mechanisms in the wake of the tragedy and how Turkey is rallying round the incident to lift itself up from the ravages that have been beamed across the world.
Double quake and evacuation
“Around 4:15am I was working on my laptop and all of a sudden, I just saw my laptop shake and my lightning system in the house also started to shake. It started from a mild shake to a very heavy shake, everything was shaking and we all run outside,” he told the BBC Africa Service.
Turkey is currently experiencing wintry conditions he added, stating how everyone in the apartments had to assemble outside before going back inside.
“…it was raining and we are in winter and so it is cold, we stood in the rain for about 45 minutes and we all went back into our rooms.”
Then the second quake struck according to Nasser: “We went back to our various rooms and early in the morning around 8:30, it also started to shake and it was also as heavy as the first shake and I think from that moment some vehicles in the neighbourhood have been going around making announcements that nobody should enter their house until further notice.”
Keeping up and holding on together
Asked where and how he was putting up, Abdallah said he was living in a park with friends, living with all but their blankets because of the weather.
He also stated how citizens were helping each other and foreigners: “Turkish nationals are allowing people to use their cars to keep warm, providing clothing, food. Nobody is allowed to enter their house until after 72 hours and most buildings have cracks.
He confirmed having spoken to his elder brother back home and exchanging WhatsApp messages with his cousin.
He stressed that the Association of African Students (AFSA) in Ardana was sending messages to one another, “everybody that knows everyone is trying to reach someone and there is no African casualties so far.”
On how he feels about the incident:
“Actually, currently I could say that I am more saddened by the news because I see kids, babies that have been trapped under collapsed buildings.
“I see parents that are crying, I have seen families that have lost either their wives or husbands, people have lost their brothers and sisters, although nothing has happened to me people in this country are like family to me, so anything that touches them, touches me.”
Latest update from the earthquake: By Turkish outlet TRT World
A powerful earthquake struck Türkiye’s southern provinces and neighbouring Syria, leaving at least 2,316 people dead within Turkish borders and killing almost 1,300 people in war-torn Syria. Monday, February 06, 2023
A major earthquake of magnitude 7.7 struck southern Türkiye and northwestern Syria, killing over three thousand people as buildings collapsed and triggering a search for survivors trapped in the rubble.
Türkiye’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said that the 7.7 magnitude quake struck at 4:17 am (0117 GMT) and was centred in the Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province on Monday.
AFAD earlier updated the intensity of the quake, which occurred at a depth of 7 kilometres (4.3 miles), from 7.4 to 7.7 magnitude at 0955 GMT.
At least 2,316 people have been reported killed in Türkiye, with 13,293 others injured in the quakes that destroyed 6,217 buildings, according to Orhan Tatar, the General Director of Earthquake and Risk Reduction at AFAD.
Meanwhile, some 7,840 people were rescued from the rubble.
Later in the day, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced seven days of national mourning. The quakes affected 10 cities where a total of approximately 13.5 million people reside.
The quake was followed by 185 aftershocks, including two magnitude 6.6 and 6.5 quakes that struck southeastern Gaziantep province, and more are expected, according to Tatar.
In Syria, regime and rescue officials reported that almost 1,300 people were killed and over 2,400 others were wounded.