Pinar Onuk

Until 17 August we were in Sapanca, a small town near Adapazari where many people go in the summer. A few days before the earthquake my Dad had gone to our summer house in Cinarcik. We had gone to Sapanca to see our Grandma and Grandma, our Uncles and Aunts who live there. On the morning after the earthquake we were due to go to Ayvalik. Everything was ready. 

That night I wanted to sleep in a room on my own. My Aunt and my little sister were in the room opposite. My Mum and my brother were in the next room. It was unbelievably hot. At one minute past three I was woken up by our dog howling. 

Then suddenly the earthquake started. Without understanding what was happening I was staring at the window from where I lay. As if I had swallowed my tongue. Everything and anything other than an earthquake was coming into my mind. Our house and the opposite house were leaning towards other so much that I could even see right into the other house from the window. At first I thought that our house had collapsed. It hadnít, but there was an incredible groaning noise. And that noise was my friend in the house opposite who was trapped under a cupboard. Then it seemed that the earthquake had stopped. But no.

It hadnít stopped. It was if something had grabbed hold of us from underneath, turned us upside down and was shaking us. Then the house was moving from one side to another without stopping. While this was going on there were terrible deep noises coming from the ground. Just as it was finishing there was a loud noise of buildings collapsing. Screams, the noise of breaking glass. Our house was buried in a deep silence. Then I heard my auntís voice say that the top floor of our house had collapsed. In the inky black darkness I couldnít feel my own feet. The house hadnít really collapsed. Afterwards they said that I had suffered a shock paralysis. When my Mum called me, my feet revived and I ran out into the pitch dark night. But the minaret of the mosque had fallen down and split the block opposite us in two. There were voices coming from the upper floors. ďWe are alive but we canít get down because the rubble from the minaret has blocked the stairs.Ē After a lot of effort we managed to get them down.

For two days we slept in the street. We still hadnít been able to get any news of my Dad. Later on, my Mum went to get my Dad and brought him back. Our family was alright! No-one dead and no-one injured. Later we pitched a tent and we were alright. That momentary paralysis I had suffered was over. But the aftershocks were really frightening. We came back from there to Istanbul. We heard that Grandma had also gone back to staying in her house.

Thatís how it happened. Believe me, writing this story I felt like I was living through that day again.

In the photo I am the one on the right. My little sister is on the left.

My handwritten story in Turkish

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