When the roar of heavy diggers stops, the sound of silence that no one wants to hear

World

In the Turkish city of Osmaniye, the sound of silence is something no one wants to hear.

This community of 250,000 was badly damaged by the earthquake with dozens of apartment blocks and offices reduced to disorderly heaps.

Hundreds of people have been consumed by the rubble and their friends and family members are desperate to get them back.

They know it will require a great deal of activity.

In a small corner, not far from the centre, we heard the roar of heavy machinery, great diggers with scoops, removing the debris.

Then, a member of a search and rescue team silenced them all when he called for quiet on the site.

“All quiet,” he shouted. Some one hundred people did as they were told.

More on Turkey-syria Earthquake

Another rescuer called into the cracks between the broken concrete slabs. “Can you hear me? Tap the wall if you can hear me.”

earthquake in Turkey still from Osmaniye
Image:
A doll lies in the wreckage

But his desperate questions went unanswered – the sound of silence hung heavily over us all.

Five apartment blocks occupied the area but they had all come down in circular piles.

The residents were asleep when the earthquake struck and it seems unlikely that anyone survived.

“It looks like a lot of people lived here?” I asked a local resident called Frut Soycan.

“When you look at this area, I’d say there were about 150 people living here, but we can’t be absolutely certain, only Allah knows this,” he replied.

“Do you think anyone could have survived?”

“Those people who we’ve already found were dead. But if we do find anyone alive, they’ve got ambulances here waiting to take them.”

Hope was fading and the outlook was bleak.

We listened to the anguished tone of onlookers, desperate for a morsel of light.

Osmaniye earthquake onlookers. Turkey

A man screamed furiously in the direction of a search and rescue team, as they stood quietly on a pile of rubble.

A woman began to cry, her frustration revealed in an emotional outburst: “Yesterday the governor came to this place, just to be seen but he does nothing.

“There are children in these buildings, three-year-olds, and five-year-olds, but they do nothing.”

The tears tumbled down her cheeks.

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Sky’s Tom Cheshire looks at the challenges facing rescuers in Turkey and Syria

The residents of Osmaniye want activity, they need supplies and search and rescue specialists at hundreds of sites around the city.

And they want to hear the sound of people being pulled from the wreckage, the cheers, roars, and the joy of family reunions.

Silence is a state that few wish to contemplate.

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