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Wednesday, August 18, 1999 Published at 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK


World: Europe

Your experiences of the Turkey quake


Concerned relatives are looking for information on loved ones. Click here if you think you can help them.

Read the latest emails we have received in the aftermath of the earthquake

I live in Bursa and 21 hours have past since the tremendous earthquake. Around here, about 150 km's away from the epicentre, it was not so severe as to bring the buildings down but still about 20 people have died in Bursa, most of them of heart attack and while trying to escape the houses. Now I see on TV that about 1400 people have died and more than 10000 have been injured throughout the country after this quake. I am feeling deeply ashamed and very, very sad as I watch them struggle for survival.
Omer Oztat, Bursa, Turkey

I was just reading the comments about the earthquakes happened in Turkey earlier and right now I felt another aftershock shaking our apartment strongly for 2 or 3 seconds. Although we are living in a safe neighbourhood for earthquakes I can see lots of people took out chairs and tables and sitting at parks from my window as I write to you. There has been at least 300 aftershocks which of them were fairly strong ( not as the major one). There are thousands of deaths around the country and people are still trying to rescue and secure beloved ones with the help of officals. God help my countrymen who is suffering from this terrible earthquake.
Eyup Unlukacar, Turkey

I jumped out of my bed and stood up for a split second before running into the next room where my 10 month old baby boy was sleeping... Our flat on the seventh floor of an apartment building was shaking wildly but I could not exactly see or hear what the quake was doing from the throbbing in my head and chest... I could never think I could be scared so much...It was as if a beast was chasing us in the darkness and we were trying to find a place to hide from it but knew that we could not...
Zeynep Uygun, Istanbul

I lived in Istanbul last year. My heart goes out to all the people affected by this terrible tragedy. At the same time, someone needs to raise the issue of the role of the government and business community in this calamity. They permitted the unregulated building practices that directly contributed to the deaths of thousands of people today.
It has been obvious for years that this kind of destruction was inevitable. Northwest Turkey is a historic earthquake zone, hit by a large scale quake on average once every 100 years. This one was more than 10 years overdue. That possibility certainly influenced my choice of apartment in Istanbul. Why did the Turkish government, business community and people ignore the risk???? Was it obvious only to foreigners???
It makes me sick to read reports in the media today. The focus in the media is very appropriately on the people affected by the tragedy and efforts to help them. But at some point someone will have to ask, was this preventable? I may be hugely naive, but I think it was. Economic imperatives are not the whole story. I can only hope that authorities in Turkey and other countries at risk can learn something from this unnecessary tragedy and do something about it for the future.
J.D., New York City, USA

At 3,00 am we felt the quake in Ankara. My wife said that "I am afraid earthquake has occured". We went out and called my mother, brother and other family and our friends. I am a geology engineer. I know how I behave while the earthquake is occuring and how and why it occurs. But most of the Turkish people don't know how they behave. We live in an earthquake country. In Turkey precautions have never been taken into account before the disasters happen. So, I am very unhappy. Earthquakes will also occur in the future. But I know that a lot of people will die again. God may save us.
Murat Ercanoğlu, Ankara/TURKEY

Last night.. after the night of the earthquake..all the people were in the streets in Istanbul because of they are still afraid from a new wave of shock. I also did not sleep at home. My friend's wife has called me by phone. She was very sad and afraid. She said me that her husband (that he is my friend) does not want to go out to the street for sleeping. She was asking for me to join her to sleep in the street for the night. Ah God, people are still afraid and it does not matter they are in street or at home. I have gone with my car to my friend's home and took his wife to out. We slept in my car till sun come over to us. I don't know what tonight it will be?
Adnan ÖZTÜRK, Turkey

It was a terrible experience we had here. I thought for a moment when it was shaking that we can't escape and it is the end for me. We all slept outside the buildings last night. I wish such a thing never occurs again not only in my country but also no place on our planet.
Erdal Mazlum, Turkey, Istanbul

I have just received an email from my cousin in Turkey. My mother is on holidays in Turkey at the moment and we were very worried. Thankfully she and my relatives in Ankara are okay. However my relatives that live in the town of DARICA, GEBZE (which I think is in IZMIT were not so lucky). We have received a call and they are sleeping outside. It appears that aid has not yet reached them and their situation is not very good. I am hoping that by sending this, someone can let the aid centres know that the people at Darica need food , clothing and support. Please help the people in Turkey as we are so far away and feel that our hands are tied..
Hulya Yilmaz, Australia

This is such a disaster, I can not describe. What is the worst thing is that out of the first countries to offer help was Japan, We live in a society of majority Muslim people, and the first people to offer help where westerners. Still I hear no help from the Islamic world. There will never be a unification of people in the Islamic world, while selfish people run the governments.
Dzafer, Turkey

Yesterday, people didn't stay at home. Every family gathered in the gardens, parks, seaside. The majority slept in their cars, the after-quakes happened many times, but those weren't too hard. Istanbul and all of the citizens were miserable. We had difficulties being informed of our friends in Izmit and Yalova. We also had some bad news. Everyone in the country is discontented (will any other quakes happen?) and sad. I wish that no one feels this way one more time.
Ayser Aray, Istanbul

My parents live in Düzce which is only 40 minutes away from Adapazari - which is the second most damaged city..I couldn't reach them and tell them that I am ok and know if they are ok.. The only thing I was thinking about was my little brother who is only ten..
A few minutes ago my dad was able to call me after 2 terrible days waiting..He said that they are all ok no damage, the house, everything ok..I am so happy now and besides so worried about the other people. I saw a mother with 2 children under a big wall..The children were dead and the mother lay on them and could not get out of there..It was my first "earthquake experience" and we lived this kind of things over here.. I just want you to think how terrible it is to be here.... I never felt as weak as I felt at that time..Now I know that nothing is permanent on the world..
Sevda Ergel, Turkey - Bursa

I was getting ready for bed when I heard a deep stump. About a few seconds later, the whole house started shaking like crazy. I started running upstairs to wake my parents up. They were woken up by the quake. We had hard time running down the stairs getting tossed from one side to the other. It would not stop_ kept on going. About 10 seconds later we were in the garden and I saw the water in the swimming pool getting splashed around as if a ship was going though it. About 10 cm of water was splashed around the yard. Tiles around the pool were shooting up 1-2 metres in the air. Then it stopped. Thank god all my family and relatives are ok and the house is intact. This is the first time I have ever felt so close to dying. I hope no-one will ever experience this...... You feel so helpless, nothing you can do. Later I heard, there are almost a thousand dead. I wish my condolences to the victims.
Hakan Aytac

The neighbour city of Istanbul has more serious problems but a İstanbul seems to have less buildings crashed. Buldings shook but did not collapse but we all stayed in our cars during the night because quake was stiil going on. Now it is morning and we still have little quakes.but life has returned to normal in Istanbul. No important buildings have any damage.
Salih Akkan, turkey

My name is Nicole Stallwood and I live in Yesilyurt in Istaanbul. The earthquake was very scary. I didn´t know what was happening. At first I thought it was my little sister trying to was trying to wake me up in the morning but when I was thrown from my bed I knew it wasn´t her. My father came ito my room and told me to put some clothes on quickly and get outside because there was an earthquake. When I got outside, the whole street had gathered there. My mother was very scared because she thought that if there was an aftershock the buildings around us might collapse and hurt us. So we went to the Hava Harp Okulu (Air Force School) near our house. From there my parent´s friend came and we went and stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Atakoy. Now we are staying with friends because we are scared to go back to our apartment. This morning we came to Bagcilar, where my father works, and on the way here we saw lots of tents on the roadside. The television and newspaper reports don´t mention aything but thee tragedy that has happened here. Everybody has had a bad experience. One of our friends was asleep in her apartment in Yalova with her baby. She was awoken by here dog and when she realised what was happening she ran out her apartment with her baby. But she could´t get out because the stairs had collapsed. She jumped from the second floor but she is okay. All the buildings surrounding hers had collapsed. The whole of Istanbul is still in shock and we are all wondering what will happen next.
Nicole Stallwood, Istanbul - Turkey

"I woke up at around 3 am in the morning with immense shaking. The bed I was on went up and down like a piece of paper for a couple of seconds. At first, I thought this was another dream , this time a bad one... I looked out of the window , electricity was cut and ambulance sirens got stronger and people started shouting "get out of your houses" I did not know what to do. First, I thought I will go under a table , then I felt maybe underneath the door was safer. Finally, I picked up a T-shirt and started running out of the apartment. I was safe outside but knew that I would not be able to say the same for many others who lived (used to live) in other parts of Turkey. I just thought , life is so simple and mankind is so hopeless and has no power against nature. You are all alive enjoying your cup of tea on a nice summer night, and the next few seconds you are buried under a huge rubble begging for a piece of air to survive. As we are unable to sign a contract with nature to predict when and where the earthquake will hit next, there is no solution other than just to surrender and to live with this devastating experience.
Nihat Ozen, Ankara/Turkey

This should be a lesson for these idiots that run our governments. These things are not joke, the buildings HAVE to be more sturdy. My life is ruined. My mother + father + sister + aunt are somewhere deep inside the mud. What can i say.
Bing Garhan, Istanbul, Turkey

Two earthquakes almost exactly a year apart seems like incredible bad luck for this country. I don't think that I'll ever be able to forget the feeling of being woken in the pitch dark of the early morning by the sound of my bedroom walls groaning, and the shrieks of hundreds of car alarms. Istiklal Caddesi, one of Istanbul's busiest streets, was almost deserted this morning, but those who were out (myself included, I'm sure) had a somewhat shell-shocked look about them. I just pray that the calls for expert help to deal with the aftermath are answered quickly, and that the suffering will be kept to the absolute minimum. Let's also hope that the aftershocks, which are still continuing, are just that - aftershocks, and not a brief respite.
Sarah Tanner, Istanbul, Turkey

I am living in Izmir where earthquakes of moderate degrees are common. Although Izmir is around 300 km to epicentre the home shook violently 45 seconds. The damage is very high since the epicentre is very shallow - just 10 km and duration is very long 45 sec. And it is very interesting that a lot of buildings collapsed in a 100 km diameter which is very very large for an earthquake.
Yavuz Anacak, Turkey

Here in Ankara we felt no tremor after the initial shock at 03.02 Tuesday morning. However, the general atmosphere in Ankara is one of disbelief and frustration mixed with anger. In Turkey's earthquake history we had never witnessed one of such wide devastation. Our anger and frustration lies with those contractors and engineers - military included - who get away with their acts of thievery by constructing illegal substandard buildings, and with the local governments who turn a blind eye or an open hand to their criminal deeds. Their crimes are the sole cause of such a high death toll. So long as all these people remain unaccountable for their acts, I fear we shall read about more sad earthquake stories in the future.
Ahmet Acet, Turkey

I live in Northern Cyprus. My friend's mother and sister are resident in Istanbul. His family (my friend's) was unable to contact her all day. I connected to the Internet and found a person in Istanbul. I messaged her on ICQ and asked her to get in touch with my friend's mother by telephone. She did and we now know that they are all fine. We even had an e-mail from her to her son and family in North Cyprus to pass on. I'd like to thank Ms. Ceyda Arac for her help. The power of the Internet!
David T. Thomas, North Cyprus

I woke up with a big shock at 3:02. My parents and I suddenly went to the garden. It was so bad. I can't explain what I felt in that time. My home was moving like a ship on a wavy sea. Everyone was in a shock and they were crying. I'm lucky that nothing happened to anyone from my family .
Nilay Nurik, Turkey / Istanbul

I was awake and on-line at 03.00 am when it started. I was at the 6th floor on the main road and first I thought a big truck is passing by then I saw that the walls are rocking and figured out whats happening. I've seen two earthquakes before so I thought it will last for some seconds and I just waited for everything to stop. After some time I felt that the rocking getting worse and after about half a minute it struck me that all the buildings are going to collapse. The quake lasted for 45 seconds which came to me like 45 minutes. I am almost sure that everything would come to pieces if it had lasted 10 seconds more.
Ahmet Ozalp, TURKEY

It was about 3 o'clock. Suddenly I woke up with terrible vibrations. I was so afraid, Istill am now too because it still goes on but not too heavy. My friend broke her leg and her mummy is now not alive. But she is now in shock so we don't tell anything to her. God, please save my country.
Betül Kacar, İstanbul

Like a game of 'It's a Knockout' - the one where you have to carry a 4 year-old down the stairs while the opposing team wobble the elastic staircase. Not until it's over and the adrenaline recedes can you accept that you are anywhere other than the epicentre. Then the news filters through. And the cold realisation that some of our neighbours and perhaps some of our friends have perished. Not like a game at all.
Brad Langford, Turkey

It's very difficult to put into the words what we experienced in this night. I was in Istanbul and lived the earthquake shock during 30 sec. The earthquake had a peak for 5 sec. The building was shaking with a great roar. Hundreds of people died in Golcuk and Yalova. The most difficult thing is to get news from our relatives who live there. We are going to stay outside for safety like everybody else.
Esin Tolga Akay, Turkey

I live in Cologne, Germany. Last night my brother called me at about 03.30 am from Istanbul on the mobile. First thing he said was: "I am alive". I didn't really understand in the first moment as I was still a little sleepy. After further talking I realised what had happened and also that my brother was still in shock. It was the last day of his holiday in Istanbul. He is back in Germany this morning. Now I am worrying about my other relatives who are Istanbul residents.
Ali Kurhan, Germany / Turkey

It is the worst day of my life. I couldn't reach my parents in Istanbul for hours. Now I'm happy to know that they are alive. But I was not able to hear anything from my aunt in Bursa. I know that hundreds of thousands are in the same situation. In Izmir we could also feel the earthquake.
Mustafa Aydogdu, Izmir/Turkey

I reside in Istanbul, around 3 am I woke up with a sound resembling thunder then my apartment building started shaking, there was a load noise during this. It felt like an eternity, I thought it wouldn't stop. It must heave lasted around 25 to 30 seconds. I looked at my wife and saw the fear in her eyes. We saw how vulnerable we can get when it comes to natural disasters. The aftershocks were even worse, we felt more than 20 of those but I heard on the news that more than 200 aftershocks were recorded. I am wishing the best for those who were hurt and/or left homeless.
Ugur Pembecioglu (28) Istanbul

My name is Tulay Demir and I am one of residents of Istanbul, where this morning we have experienced the worst night of our lives, at least this is my point of view. Last night I went to bed at 1.30 a.m. and at 3.02 I was woken up by the most powerful earthquake that I have experienced in my 28 years life. During two quakes my family and I kept cool and as soon as the second was over, we ran to the stairs to leave the the building. We woke our neighbours up around and we waited outside till 8 a.m. Right now I am writing this e-mail from my work and hoping to no one ever happen to experience what we did this morning. There are many things which I can not put into words. One more thing, after all it is great to be still alive! Bye for now ,
Tulay Demir, Istanbul

The earthquake started off very very strong knocking everyone out of their beds... As I tried to sit up in my bed I heard items falling off the shelves with crashes and a deafening rumbling sound everywhere.....Had the full 45 seconds of the quake been that strong I think it would have been one of the worst disasters in the history of mankind. Thankfully after the first 5-10 seconds it slowed down a bit but lasted so long I thought it was going to pick up again....

In total agreement with the other individual whose opinion you have quoted, I too think that the aftershocks were the most demoralising part of the horrible night... Living in an eighth floor flat I felt every single one of them... I lost count of them as a slight tremble was felt more frequent then every 5 minutes....

Minutes after the first quake the entire city was without power and as I ran down eight floors of stairs and got in the open I saw a starry Istanbul sky for the first time in more than a decade as the city was in total darkness, bar the headlights of the cars driving around aimlessly...
Kadir Bahcecik, Central Istanbul

The earthquake also hit the capital, Ankara. But no injuries or any material damages are related. It was one of the strongest quakes we ever experienced here, the building where we are living shook like hell for 40 to 45 seconds!! In our living room, the furniture has changed place over 5 to 10 cms!!
FG, Turkey

My wife and I were sound asleep, when the quake struck at 3am and jolted us upright in bed. Our apartment is on the ground floor, looking out into a small garden. The tremor lasted for about 45 seconds and it felt as if the whole building was moving from one side to another. The most terrible effect though, I found, was the noise. It was a very very powerful, medium frequency whining sound, which was quite nerve wracking. We decided to stay inside.

I checked the house immediately with the help of a flashlight, as power had been cut altogether and everywhere. I saw no cracks in the walls (other than the few that already existed). Everybody was out in the streets. A prominent newspaperman and his neighbours set up a table and started drinking in front of their building. I returned to bed but just could not sleep. I felt a lot of aftershocks. I also felt dead cold and that made my kidneys work fulltime, all the time. The sound is still ringing in my ears and it is still terrifying me and I hope that we don't get another tremor like that within the foreseeable future (this sounds like wishful thinking, I guess!).

This is nature's way. If one is still around to talk of it afterward, you realise that man is a big 'nothing' and as helpless as a newly born 'anything', facing the formidable and unharnessable power of the universe.
Ahmet Tunca, Istanbul - Turkey

I'm sitting in my office now, 10 hrs after the quake, watching TV powered by generators. The scenes are very bad especially the ones from Golcuk, a city near Izmit where the quake hit strongly. Personally, I felt five strong aftershocks and I can't imagine what it must be like for the people under the rubble.
L Ustay, Turkey

I am in the earthquake zone in Istanbul, Turkey 55 miles from the centre point of last night's earthquake in Izmit. We felt the earthquake at 3am local time and the whole building was shaking for 45 seconds. We are still feeling the smaller ones and apparently they will continue for months. Many people left homes while I did stay in as there was no electricity and it was not possible to walk with my crutches. Luckily I was not alone and my mother and my sister was also here with our three cats. Our building is not damaged and we felt 3-4 more strong earthquakes later on - the latest at around 11am local time.

We were woken at just after 3am in our hotel just by the Bosphorous, off Taksim Square. It felt like someone was madly shaking the bed. It seemed to last for around 30 seconds before it calmed down. After briefly going outside we returned to bed but saw every hour in and felt every aftershock. I am a consultant working out here for a bank and we have gone to work today as usual. Everything looks OK in our immediate environment but its eerie to think that people have died within a few kms.
Tim Bicknell, Turkey

God bless all the people in Turkiye.It was very terrible.
Ramazan Durmaz, Turkey

I am sending this email from Israel. We are the members of the Turkish community here. I am a shipping agent working with Turkish vessels . All the community and the Turkish crew are worried for the families..... We are all trying to reach to main cities in the area but no success.... The GSM mobile phones are also out of order... Any information regarding the telephone lines is crucial... Thanks,
Akil Ulukaya / Haifa-Israel

My name is Ali Karataş and I was in Halkalı distrtict of İstanbul where a five storey building collapsed completely. It's said that more than 50 people were sleeping in the building. Only seven people were able to run out during the earthquake and after that citizens rescued three injured people. It was only a few fireman who helped the save people while police and gendarmes only barricaded in front of the building. There was not any organised work at the place.

Unfortunately there must be lots of corpses inside the ruins if we think that only 3 alive people can be reached between 3 and 8 o'clock. Such scenes can be seen in every quake zone and our 'mighty' state does not exist here at the moment.
Ali Karataş, Turkey

I'm so afraid. My parent are crying now because my young brother was killed in the earthquake. P.S. I'm the oldest child in the family.
Fatih Gurhan, Turkey

Being a British Citizen living in Istanbul these past 4 years, you might say I was a little unprepared for the experience of an earthquake while I lay in my bed. My wife and I woke at 3am to the sensation of the bed shaking by what felt like six inches from side to side. Of course never having experienced such a thing before, my first reaction was what would a burglar be doing shaking my bed! Anyway, we quickly realised what was happening and decided the best thing would be to leave the building ASAP. Then it dawned on me how really ill prepared the general public is for such a disaster and how fragile our lives are at the mercy of nature.

I can tell you that I was very, very scared. The aftershocks continued for some time later and many were quite strong, causing us to worry that maybe the big one had not struck yet. Throughout it all our imaginations were running wild. The municipality had rightly shut down all power to the city, so we had no real news of where the epicentre was or what was still to come. Then after a lot of twiddling, one of the neighbours got a Turkish news channel telling us that is was Izmit that had been dealt the worst.

Many of the locals were jumping in their cars in an attempt to leave the city for safe ground - I heard later that many of Istanbul's main road arteries became blocked as a consequence. We stayed among our neighbours until a little before seven, when we went back into our apartment and I prepared to commence another interesting business day in Istanbul.
Cornelius McCann

The after shocks continue ... I came to work but I am the only person in a 200 men building. After I send this e-mail I will go out.
Murat Duman

This is a terrible feeling. I wish no-one on the world faces such a horror. The noise coming from the ground makes you feel what I cannot define.
Latif Gunay, Istanbul

Was woken at 03:02 local (00:02 GMT), the building in which I live, on the 7th floor felt as if it was oscillating. I got up and sat in a doorway until the shaking ceased (about a minute I am told). My wife, who is Turkish and has been through these before knew what was happening. We walked into our living room and saw numerous people making their way to the street. We decided to do likewise.
Malc Ellery, Istanbul

As your news reports said the Earthquake was incredibly powerful. The part of istanbul I live in suffered little damage, mainly because the apartments are well built. When the quake happened I thought that the whole building was going to collapse. Unfortunately other buildings were not so lucky. I am very worried about friends who live in the Izmit area, I can only hope they are safe.
Stuart

I live in Istanbul and I've been living the earthquake and the shock after this. At 03:02, we woke up caused by the movement and some voices came outside saying "Everybody get out, earthquake". And electricity went out...

After getting out, I saw all people, children were outside. Where I live in Istanbul (PASABAHCE) was lucky, so nearly no house were destroyed. I've heard that just one old person had a heart attack and died.

But the AVCILAR (a small part of the Istanbul) wasn't lucky and many people are still under flattened buildings. Especially IZMIT... No connection is available between us! Phone lines were cut... I've heard that lots of people were dead and injured. Hospitals are full right there and can not accept new injuries... We need rescue teams and medical support for IZMIT...

Thats all I can say for now, it took nearly five and a half hours since EarthQuake but we still live the shock....
Koray Taser, Istanbul

Being an resident of the European side of Istanbul we felt the shock at around 2.00 am. Living on the 8th floor my apartment started to shake like a paper building. Experiencing an earthquake for the first time in my life (I am 29) I didn't have time to be afraid. I was astonished by what was happening. I took about one minute I guess.

People rushed out of their homes staying and sleeping in their cars for the night. Others, a minority, went back to their houses to get some sleep. However most people were holding themselves together and experiencing it very calmly. A known feature of the Turkish people when having disasters or difficult times. One family in my neighbourhood refused to get out of their apartment. It was over they said and it couldn't get any worse so there was no need to evacuate their apartment besides tomorrow was another working day!
Uzay Kadak, Istanbul





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