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Wednesday, August 18, 1999 Published at 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK


World: Europe

Your latest experiences from the earthquake zone


News Online users continue to tell us of their experiences in the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey.

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

Read the first emails we received after the earthquake struck

Tell us about your experiences since the earthquake struck


The situation here is now moving from shock and panic to a lingering fear - small aftershocks still continue, but none as large as yesterday - and to a desire to do whatever possible to help. The large international company that I work for is busy organising relief efforts with both individual employees' contributions and worldwide company donations. We have arranged for a crane, doctors, and first-aid trained employees to join in the search for survivors at hard-hit Yalova, as well as for translators to help support the incoming international emergency teams, and teams to buy basic supplies for the survivors in need. I've been spending my day helping to check that our employees are safe, and to develop plans for us to provide support for those affected by the tragedy.
Many people here never returned to their houses last night - most of those who ran out in terror in the early hours of yesterday morning spent the night sleeping in their cars or out in the open. In some ways you could compare it to scenes of a big community picnic or festival - if you ignored the fear shared by all and the never-ending litany of tragedy coming from the news reports.
It should be borne in mind though by those worried about missing people in Turkey that the buildings that have primarily suffered are the poorly constructed apartment blocks in the affected areas. Certainly in Istanbul the majority of the city is safe - the affected areas are on the European side, out near the airport, mainly Avcilar and Halkali, with less damage in Sefakoy, Bagcilar and Zeytinburnu.

As the scale of the tragedy emerges, increasing numbers of people who felt a fleeting relief yesterday morning learn of friends or relatives that remain unaccounted for, or who have been affected by the disaster. In a country with little specialised equipment immediately available for disaster relief, we all know that the more time passes without news from our missing friends, family or colleagues, the less likely it is that we will ever see them again. We need large-scale international help to have any hope of finding many survivors in the rubble, but by the time they arrive it may well be too late.
In the meantime everybody's thoughts and prayers are with the thousands who remain unaccounted for - hoping against hope that they are all just unable to get through on the phone lines.
Julia Denman, Istanbul

I have to agree with anybody that points to building practice, shoddy building materials and the mismanagement of local city governments as THE principal cause of the tragedy occurring here in Istanbul right now. As someone trained in architecture, I was shocked to see the poor state of the construction sector here in Turkey. Buildings are built like houses of cards with no regard to their safety or use. Simple brick, concrete and steel construction techniques that produce boxes on top of boxes makes these structures so stiff that they can't stand any lateral forces. They all just crumbled underneath the pressures of the quakes dynamic energy running across their structural skeletons.
The ignorant city governments find many poorly paid officials willing to take bribes from greedy developers to allow this kind of building to occur. Nobody cares what the result of their actions will be and surprisingly no one here in Turkey would take personal responsibility for the system. People here are just willing to pass the buck and blame the next person for the problem. Blame the government, blame the media, blame the educational system, blame the corporations, whoever. This kind of tragedy happens regularly here. If it's not a quake its a fire, flood or other calamities like the numerous traffic accidents.
If any one in Turkey is reading this I would like to tell you one thing. Tragedies like this don't happen because of one reason. Its a whole host of reason all tied to seemingly unrelated personal decisions made every day. And don't think your not responsible. We are all responsible. Every time you run a traffic light, pay a bribe, look the other way when someone is doing something illegal or incorrect. It's small decisions like these that contribute to Turkey's short sighted, short termed culture of greedy opportunism that results in tragedies like this earthquake.
Gökhan Karakus, Istanbul, Turkey

I live in the western district of Istanbul about 3 miles from Avcillar and the worst part affected of Istanbul, although further away from the epicentre than the city it lies on the fault line therefore it experienced a more severe shock. We experienced several smaller aftershocks for a couple of hours but I have not re entered the apartments on the advice of the emergency services, and I spent last night camped by the large Buyukcekmece lake, we now have electricity and a phone service, hence the e mail. The people of Turkey are by nature a very proud and friendly nation, yet again they have been dealt a cruel blow by nature. I hope that God one day smiles upon them.
Alan Robinson expat from Middlesbrough

I was sleeping when the earthquake was started and then I suddenly woke up jumping over my bed and stood up while praying until it stops. I was so cool and did not panic and just watched out of bedroom. As I was alone in my house I was so scared however, I did not think to run out of room, just waited for it to be passed over. This was the most powerful earthquake I have ever seen. I hope that we don't see any longer such an earthquake and I'll never forget it. Thank God! and thanks for sharing my memory with me.
Mehmet Denizhan, Turkey

I can't believe it. I'm living
Usame Ildar özdemir, TURKEY

There has been a veritable ''earthquake'' of fear since yesterday morning. Relatives of those in the affected region have no means of contacting their loved ones and although Izmir was not especially effected basic water and electric services were affected throughout yesterday.
Deniz Ayhan, Turkey

Please help to stop the fire in the oil refinery in Izmit which is called Tupras. 5 minutes ago I have seen at the news that the fire is being spread out and it is expected to explode if it can not be stopped. I have seen that Turkish fire extinguishing planes are not sufficient to stop it. If it explodes we are very afraid to live another catastrophe. We are expecting help from US and European countries for this fire.
Muge Yavuzbalkan, Turkey

The first thing in the morning I tried to contact my family. It was a huge relief to learn that they were OK, but my heart is still hurting when I read the news about over 2000 dead people. I cannot stop thinking about them. I just wished I were there to do anything, anything at all I could do to help. I will try to do my best from thousand miles away. I am mourning for my citizens with all my heart and soul...
Asli Hitay- Espin, USA

I truly understand what those poor people in Turkey are going through. Living through earthquake is by far one of the most frightening experiences I have ever been t through. After living in beautiful southern California for over 10 years I moved out of the state after the 1994 Northridge quake! My prayer are with all the residents of Turkey.
Ann, United States

I woke up at 3am. I felt that the bookshelf is moving towards me. The apartment was shaking and making strange noise. I got up and ran to the living room. Also other members of my family came to the living room. We held the sides of the main door as well as each other. Then, there was a few second silence and earth stopped moving. But it began again. We decided to leave the house as soon as possible, during next break. The electricity went off. We took candles and walked downstairs from our apartment on 10th floor. Everyone was out. My hands were shaking. For a while I could not believe that it was over. We took the car and drove to Sariyer - a suburb of Istanbul near the sea where there are less high buildings. After 5 hours we returned back home. We felt very happy to be ok. When I watched tv I started feeling very sad -- I was chosen to live -- so many others were not.
Reeta Paakkinen, Finland in Turkey


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