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“God forbid to experience this”: the Russian photographer showed exclusive images after the disaster in Turkey

Date: March 22, 2023 Time: 13:22:58

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

The earthquake in Turkey was among the ten most destructive in the world. To date, the death toll is about 40 thousand people. But this figure, unfortunately, is not yet final. Debris cleanup continues.

KP.RU photojournalist Vladimir Velengurin went to Turkey early in the morning with a detachment of Russian rescuers. Here are the notes that he managed to make in parallel with the shooting.

TRAFFIC WITHIN 200 KM

On the first day, the Russian Emergencies Ministry sent two groups of rescuers to the disaster site. “Centrospas” – to Turkey, and “Leader” – to Syria. There were more than 100 people in the Centrospas, about 40 of them were doctors. Arriving at the Adada airport closest to the epicenter of the earthquake, it became clear that the situation with the coordination of work and the situation in the emergency zone was not entirely clear.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

The airport was full of rescuers from different countries. The specialists slept on the floor, obviously not for the first hour. The cynologists lay hugging the dogs. The situation was nervous, because every minute of inactivity meant that people were dying under the rubble at that time. Only after a few hours of lost time we headed for the hardest hit town of Kahramarmarysh.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Moving towards the city was very difficult. The track for 200 km was a huge traffic jam. This is because people from all over the country rushed to provide assistance or find out what happened to their family and friends. The authorities did not think to restrict entry…

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

WHEEL RESCUE

Already on the way you could see the magnitude of the earthquake. We passed completely destroyed houses, the road was cracked in places, and sometimes they reached a considerable width – up to several tens of centimeters. Upon arrival, we were given a place to camp on the territory of the Turkish Ministry of Emergency Situations, a few kilometers from the city. Immediately part of the rescuers went to the rubble. The rest proceeded to set up camp.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

The camp was going very fast. Literally in 30 minutes the accommodation modules, meals were inflated, the headquarters and the camp were prepared. The next day, our mobile hospital started operating in the center of the city. The places where our rescuers worked are various ruins of high-rise buildings in different areas. Its appearance resembled a layer cake. The “pies” of the cake are interfloor ceilings – concrete floors, and they are also ceilings. Sometimes they were so crowded together that they merged into one whole with no spaces where people could survive.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

At night, a message came that a living person had been found in the rubble where our rescuers were working. The man was crushed along with his wife by a plate. The woman did not survive. Our doctors put the man on a drip and began to fight for his life. All this took quite a while. Almost the whole night I was there and I hoped for a miracle when this man was pulled out alive from under the rubble.

It was not easy to be near the rescue work in the ruins: it was cold, a strong wind was blowing. I had to warm up with the inhabitants of the house destroyed by fires. Unfortunately, the man died in the morning.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

The first day was the most intense and terrible for all the residents. Many were dressed in light clothing. It was very cold and many warmed themselves by the fires. There was still no special food and large-scale assistance, which came only a few days later.

Then I calculated that in some period of time in the first days I did not eat for more than 30 hours. The shops were closed and there was only time to work. Despair was felt among the inhabitants, screams and cries were heard.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

In the following days, the image of the earthquake began to take shape and the areas and places where rescuers had to work at first were identified. These were areas where signs of living people were coming from. Our rescuers worked together with colleagues from Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Hungary. The largest rescue team, several hundred people, came from Azerbaijan.

FLYING SQUAD

Among our rescuers received the practice of flying squadrons. When a small group of rescuers came out at specific signals in places where there were supposed to be living people. Mchsovtsy were equipped with good modern equipment, including a helicopter with a thermal imager, and there was always a classic cynologist with a dog in the detachment. First, the work of the cynologist began. If the dog gave a sign that he had found someone, thermal imaging cameras and devices similar to a long retractable fishing rod were used. At the end of such a device was a video camera with lighting. With his help, it was possible to penetrate a narrow multi-meter gap in the ruins and understand what was happening under the rubble.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Our rescuers worked with precision, like a well-oiled mechanism – decades of saving people are behind them. Every step, every movement and action at the scene of the emergency has already been tested by them many times, which gives a good result.

In addition to clearing debris, we also carry out a humanitarian mission. The Chechen diaspora, living in Turkey, sent a request for help to Ramzan Kadyrov. By order of the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Alexander Kurenkov, rescuers brought one and a half tons of humanitarian aid to the village of Gujuksu. The settlement was badly damaged, the old houses were destroyed. The Chechens huddled in sheds, which they quickly knocked down from boards. They brought food, water, warm clothes, blankets, pillows. There was practically no one to unload KAMAZ with humanitarian aid. The download was first initiated by the adviser to the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Daniil Martynov; he was joined by elderly local residents and journalists.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

This aid was given on the condition that part of it was also given to the people who suffered from the earthquake in the nearby villages.

BY THE EYEWITNESS

Lyudmila told me about what people experienced at the beginning of the earthquake. She is married to a Turk and has lived here for 7 years. On the morning of the earthquake, she woke up around 5:00 am to strong tremors. I knew right away that there was an earthquake. She grabbed her clothes and ran out into the street with her husband. With horror, she remembers the moment when they went down the stairs, which were shaking violently. They fell, got up and came down again until they were in the air. This was the first impact of the earthquake.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Cracks went through the house, but it did not collapse. There were many people in the courtyard. Many were barely clothed and barefoot. They began to burn fire to keep warm. How did you stay a few hours? There were no serious shocks and many began to return to their apartments. Lyudmila’s husband also wanted to return, but she did not let him. This saved him.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Subsequently, strong tremors began again and the house half collapsed. Electrical shorts have started. Fires broke out. A store caught fire nearby, but there was nothing to put it out.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

The Turkish custom of locking metal apartment doors with locks that “extend” in all directions cost some people their lives. The apartments became traps when the doors got stuck.

Emergency services did not respond to calls. Chaos and panic reigned everywhere. People were left to fend for themselves.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Lyudmila also spoke about the fact that the robberies had begun. In the first hours, jewelry stores, banks and everything of value that was found were looted. They entered the stores with knives and took everything of value.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

I myself saw a huge two-meter safe, which was lying next to the ruins. It was pried open. With them, the criminals managed to bend the doors a little so that a hand could penetrate there and loot the contents of the safe.

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

A few days after the earthquake the situation normalized, many volunteers arrived. They offered food, water, clothing. People have become kinder. Before that, there were cases when the Turks sometimes rushed at me with their fists when I tried to shoot. I don’t blame them, God forbid they go through something like that…

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

Photo: Vladimir VELENGURIN

READ ALSO

“Burning bonfires for warmth and washing with tears” – exclusive photo report of Turkey’s “Komsomolskaya Pravda” after earthquakes

Photo correspondent of KP.RU Vladimir Velengurin transmits pictures of the Kahramanmarash province (details)

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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