‘Can anyone hear us?’: As time runs out, the search for a miracle continues in Turkey’s earthquake ruins

Every now and then, the rescuers sifting through the rubble of destroyed buildings in Adana in Turkey’s south turn their machines off and scream out for total silence.
Then, in Turkish, they call out in unison: “Can anyone hear us?”
They wait for a long moment, hoping to hear a reply from the beneath the ruins.
When none comes, they resume working.
“My daughter was living in this building,” local resident Nurten tells SBS News, pointing to the same ruins.

“When she didn’t call me, I was worried. I called her and she didn’t pick up. And so far, she hasn’t answered her phone.”

Nurten’s daughter lived in a building that was destroyed in Monday earthquake. Source: SBS News

Nurten’s two granddaughters, aged 16 and 18, are sleeping by her side.

They have refused to leave the footpath outside their mother’s apartment building since they learned it had come crashing down.
“They are waiting with hope,” Nurten says.
“The eldest daughter says, ‘Without my mother, I can’t sleep’.

“The children need their mother. Maybe a miracle is going to happen.”

People search through the rubble of an apartment building

Rescuers have spent days searching through buildings that the earthquake reduced to rubble. Source: SBS News

Less than a hundred metres away, a miracle has just happened for Taylan.

Four of his close friends were living in another building brought down during the earthquake.
More than 72 hours later, he learns two of them have just been pulled from the rubble.
“They found two people, injured, but alive,” Taylan says.
“God willing, they are going to find the rest of the family.”

Taylan rushed off, phone in hand, calling his friends and family to tell them the good news.

A man in a red jacket holds up a mobile phone with a photo of fur people on it.

Taylan’s close friends, a family of four, were trapped under the rubble of their building. Two have now been found, but the other two are still missing. Source: SBS News

Moments like that give a dose of desperately needed hope to the rest of the families still hoping their loved ones will defy the odds and be found alive.

Layla has been camped outside the same collapsed building for four days.
Her sister is trapped in the ruins.
“I couldn’t sleep all night, and I witnessed a lady get rescued,” Layla says.

“It was like my sister got rescued. I was just as happy.”

A group of four Turkish women and a man sit on chairs

Relatives of those missing in Adana are holding onto hope their loved ones will be found alive. Source: SBS News

Between prayers and tears, the families of the missing try to make sense of what has happened.

Some believe it could have been avoided.
Turkey has been collecting earthquake tax for more than 20 years, after another devastating disaster struck the country’s north west and killed more than 17,000 people.

The government has raised $6.5 billion for disaster prevention since.

Ahmet is wondering where his taxes have gone.
“We’ve been aware of the situation for 20 years,” he says.
“Our government pretended not to know about it. They haven’t taken any precautions.

“They don’t want to spend the money and help us.”

An old man wearting glasses, a navy blue and yellow jacket, and a patterned scarf

Ahmet’s son’s sister-in-law is also trapped in the rubble. Source: SBS News

More than 23,000 people across and are confirmed to have died as a result of Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

It is the seventh-most deadly natural disaster seen this century.
A team of Australian rescue and recovery experts are expected to reach the disaster zone on Saturday to help Turkish authorities.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was helping around 60 Australians and their families directly affected by the quake.

SBS News journalist Claudia Farhart filed this report from Adana, Turkey.

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