International rescue missions are actively working to find survivors among the rubble left by Monday’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake that claimed at least 5,000 lives in Syria and Turkey, left thousands injured and an unknown number trapped. The early-morning earthquake and dozens of aftershocks wiped out apartment buildings in Turkey and wreaked havoc in Syria’s already devastated infrastructure by more than a decade of war. Hundreds of families are believed to remain trapped under the rubble, as the international community is sending humanitarian assistance.
Turkish survivors who sought refuge in Gaziantep Airport in southwestern Turkey shared their harrowing experience with Turkish public broadcaster TRT.
Huseyin Yucebas, 57, said he felt “so helpless” when he felt the floor shaking.
He said: “It’s almost impossible to describe, only those who have experienced it can understand. We wobbled as if in a cradle. There was real chaos in the house.
“The only thing that came to mind was to pray at the time. We felt so helpless.”
13-year-old Fatih Alyar reported a “scene from hell” where furniture started falling apart.
“It was like a scene from hell,” he said. “Everything was shaking. All the furniture was falling apart. We felt it more because we were on the top floor. Then, when we went downstairs, the floor shook.
“When we got in the car and started driving, the car was shaking. We were very scared.”
READ MORE: Devastating photos show scale of destruction of Turkey’s earthquake
According to researchers, the 7.8 magnitude earthquake was a strike-slip earthquake. This happens when two tectonic plates slide past one another horizontally. Alex Hatem, a USGS research geologist, said in this case, “one plate moved west while the other moved east”.
Foreign governments have rushed to dispatch aid, personnel and equipment to help the rescue effort, including at least 13 European Union countries.
So far, the UK has sent 76 search-and-rescue specialists with equipment and dogs, as well as an emergency medical team, to Turkey. It is in contact with the UN about getting support for victims in Syria.
EU countries are coordinating their response and preparing deliveries of emergency generators, tents, blankets and water treatment equipment.
The number of victims is widely expected to rise considerably. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared seven days of national mourning.
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