Turkish teen filmed ‘last moments’ from quake-hit apartment

Turkish teen filmed ‘last moments’ from quake-hit apartment

ADIYAMAN, Turkey (AP) – A 17-year-old high school student has captured Turkish hearts after filming a farewell message to his loved ones while trapped under the rubble of his home during last week’s earthquake.

Taha Erdem and his family were fast asleep when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck their hometown of Adiyaman in the early hours of February 6.

Taha was suddenly awakened by strong tremors that shook the four-story building in a blue-collar neighborhood of the central Anatolian city.

Within 10 seconds, Taha, his mother, father and younger brother and sister are plunging down with the building.

He found himself alone and trapped under tons of rubble, the powerful aftershock waves displacing the debris, squeezing his space between the mess of concrete and twisted steel. Taha took out his cell phone and began recording his final farewell, hoping it would be revealed after his death.

“I think this is the last video I’ll ever shoot for you,” he said from the cramped space, his phone shaking in his hand as vibrations shook the collapsed building.

Showing remarkable resilience and courage for a teenager, believing he was speaking his last words, he lists his wounds and talks about his regrets and the things he hopes to do if he comes out alive. During the video, the screams of other trapped people can be heard.

“We are still shaking. Death, my friends, comes when one least expects it.” says Taha, before reciting a Muslim prayer in Arabic.

“There are many things I regret. May God forgive me of all my sins. If I get out of here alive today, there are many things I want to do. We’re still shaking, yes. My hand is not shaking, it’s just the earthquake.”

The teenager goes on to state that he believes his family is dead, along with many others in the town, and that he will soon join them.

But Taha was destined to be among the first to be rescued from the destroyed building. He was pulled from the wreckage two hours later by neighbors and taken to his aunt’s house.

Ten hours after the earthquake, his parents and siblings were also rescued by local residents who dug through the rubble of the building with their bare hands and whatever tools they could find.

When The Associated Press spoke to the family Thursday, they were living in a tent provided by the government, along with hundreds of thousands of others who survived the disaster that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria, killing more than 43,000.

“This is my home,” said Taha’s mother, Zeliha, 37, as she watched excavators dig up their old life and dump it into heavy trucks.

“Boom-boom-boom, the building came down on top of us,” she recalled, describing how she had continued to scream her son’s name as she was trapped under the rubble in the hope that the five of them might die together as one. . family.

The Erdems’ youngest children – daughter Semanur, 13, and 9-year-old son Yigit Cinar – were sleeping in their parents’ room when the earthquake struck.

But Taha could not hear his mother’s calls through the mass of concrete. She couldn’t even hear her son’s screams in the darkness and both believed the other was lying dead in the ruined building.

It was only when Zeliha, her husband Ali, 47, a hospital cleaner, and the other children were taken to her sister’s house that they realized Taha had escaped.

“The world was mine at that moment,” Zeliha said. “I have nothing, but I have my children.”

The story of the Erdem family is one of many emotional stories of human strength that has emerged from the widespread disaster zone. Many vividly recount the horrors of being trapped under their homes.

Ibrahim Zakaria, a 23-year-old Syrian who was rescued in the Syrian coastal city of Jableh on February 10, told the AP that he survived by licking water dripping down the wall next to him, slipping in and out of consciousness and losing hope for surviving the waking moments.

“I almost gave up because I thought I was going to die,” he said from his hospital bed. “I thought, ‘There is no escape.’

In the Turkish city of Gaziantep, 17-year-old Adnan Muhammed Korkut was trapped for four days before being rescued. He told the private news agency IHA that he was so thirsty that he drank his own urine.

Muhammet Enes Yeninar, 17, and his 21-year-old brother were rescued after 198 hours in nearby Kahramanmaras.

He said they cried for the first two days, mostly asking about their mother and whether she had survived, IHA reported. Later they began to comfort each other – “talking about brotherhood” and eating protein powder.

Also in Kahramanmaras, Aleyna Olmez, 17, was pulled free after 248 hours under the rubble. “I tried to pass the time by myself,” she said.

Stories of extraordinary survival often emerge during disasters, especially after earthquakes, when the world’s media record the fading hope of recovering survivors as each hour passes.

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, a 16-year-old girl was rescued in Port-Au-Prince 15 days after an earthquake devastated the city. Three years later, a woman trapped under a collapsed building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, was rescued after 17 days.


Badendieck reported from Istanbul.

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