A newly released audio shared by Serbestiyet news site shows dozens of people died under the rubble of a collapsed hotel in Turkey’s Adıyaman, as professional rescue crews were late to respond to the 6 February earthquakes.
Hotel İsios has become a symbol of the disaster, as a group of 35 from north Cyprus, including 26 students, plus a group of 31 guides, died under rubble waiting for Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority’s (AFAD) search and rescue teams to arrive.
The audio contains calls for help sent via WhatsApp by two tourist guides from beneath the rubble.
“Our upper bodies are safe, our lower bodies are squashed under concrete. We cannot resist, we have enormous pain. We cannot manage to get out unless this concrete wall is removed. We are fading away with our eyes open,” Aydın says in the audio.
“We can see outside. People have reached us, but this is not something people can do. AFAD should come here, ordinary citizens cannot do it,” he adds.
Both guides were rescued in the afternoon on 6 February, but lost their lives on the way to hospital.
Meanwhile, dozens more under the rubbled building also waited for help. Many people in the area said that they could hear voices coming from under the rubble for days. Relatives and friends of the victims used social media continuously appealed for construction equipment to save lives.
The media in northern Cyprus describe Hotel İsios as the symbol of the earthquake disaster for Turkish Cypriots. The families of children who died in the hotel shared photos on social media to draw attention to the authorities’ negligence and to express their pain. None of the hotel residents from Cyprus survived.
A preliminary investigation showed that despite a weak structure, columns had been cut to convert the original building into an hotel. The outside of the building was renovated to give it a fresh look. The hotel was initially closed during inspections, but was soon authorised to open.
On 15 February authorities arrested four of the hotel’s senior personnel. The Bozkurt family, who own the hotel, are known to have close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).