Doha news is travelling with Qatari first responders and rescue workers as they deploy to earthquake-stricken Turkey.
(Nurdagi, Turkey) Just west of Gaziantep, the remote town of Nurdagi is now blemished with debris from crumbled buildings shaken by the weight of Monday’s devastating earthquakes that shook the country.
The magnitude of this week’s 7.8 earthquakes struck only four miles from Nurdagi, leaving the captivating surroundings of the town to be filled with crushed residential areas, whining ambulances, and a huge number – and rising – of dead.
Enveloped by giant snow-capped mountains and pitch-green fields, the drive up to the town of 40,000 is delicate, allowing one to briefly forget the horrors within the country.
However the calm quickly turns to storm with black helicopters breaking the silence of the ravishing drive as they scramble back and forth into the ruined town.
Deep cracks now penetrate the highway’s asphalt following the tremor, edging cars onto one lane of the road as emergency services workers fill in the wreck with dirt.
With the clock fringing past 72 hours, time is of the essence for independent and foreign rescue teams as the time period is crucial for finding any survivors.
Once recognised for its impressive selection of attractions and experiences, Nurdagi may now be remembered as a pile of dust.
Inside the town, anguished search and rescue teams work around the clock, expecting a miracle from deep beneath the rubble.
A combined united front from Qatari, Malaysian, Spanish, and forces from several other nations have separated areas into sections to defy the rising death toll.
Despite the need for speed, rescue teams have no choice but to go slow as the conditions of buildings are still seen as vulnerable.
“We need to work slowly because it’s very dangerous, as any moment could lead to collapse,” Qatar’s Lekhwiya forces told Doha News on the site of one recovery mission.
On Wednesday, Qatar’s internal security force rescued the life of a 12-year-old child while also recovering one deceased female resident.
The operation for the young child carried an uneasy seven hours as the child’s legs were punctured by rubble.
The retrieval of the child was found as neighbours confirmed that they heard a faint voice calling for help under the tumbled house.
“His leg was trapped, and we worked on getting him out for seven straight hours. Thank God we got him alive,” Lekhwiya forces told Doha News.
However, countless lives were not as fortunate as the child as groups carried body bags to pile them into a corner of the street until ambulances and volunteer trucks came to receive them.
On one site, a young woman was dragged by the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART).
“It’s been like this all day since we arrived,” a member of SMART told Doha News.
There have been periods of silence to listen to any whispers of life as teams have lifted slabs of cement with enormous cranes and smashed rubble with jackhammers to listen for a sign of a survivor.
Often, the silence would linger, leaving hope to become despair.
Loved ones look uneasy and anxious as they fear their trapped ones are inching closer to death.
Teams like Qatar use body heat and thermal devices to locate survivors, anticipating that any moment could be an opportunity for life.
“There are always chances; it’s never too late,” a member of the Lekhwiya force told Doha News.
With a team of 130, Qatar’s forces have been spread thin to cover as much ground as possible in the ceaseless parade of flattened structures.
As rescuers work, wailing relatives pace around the area to make sense of the commotion, and the threatening situation of the unknown lingers slowly among all those in the city.
“Our biggest challenge is the cold; it makes things complicated, “Mohd Khairul Jamil of SMART told Doha News.
Temperatures fall to freezing during the evenings, grasping the region into a chokehold.
As the sun set Thursday for the fourth time in devastated cities, the motivation to recover survivors became more urgent as the component of death grows even more into actuality.
“Soon, they will call off these rescue missions, and they will instead focus their efforts on those alive and leave the rest behind,” a pedestrian of the disaster told Doha News.
“No time is left; they must act now.”