After recording a farewell message to his loved ones while he was buried in his home’s debris during last week’s earthquake, a 17-year-old high school student won the hearts of Turks.
In the early hours of February 6, Taha Erdem and his family were sound asleep when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck their city of Adiyaman.
Violent vibrations shook the four-story apartment building in the center of Anatolian city’s working-class district, quickly waking Taha.
Taha, his mother, father, younger brother, and sister were all falling with the building in less than ten seconds.
With severe aftershocks displacing the material and squeezing his space among the mangled concrete and bent steel, he discovered himself alone and trapped beneath tons of wreckage.
Taha pulled out his phone and started recording a farewell message hoping it would be found after his passing.
His phone shook in his palm as vibrations rocked the collapsing structure as he stated, “I think this is the final video I will ever shoot for you.”
He details his injuries, expresses remorse, and outlines what he wishes to do if he survives, displaying extraordinary bravery and resiliency for a teenager who thought he was saying his last words.
The screams of other imprisoned persons can be heard in the footage.
We’re still trembling. Death, my friends, comes when one least expects it, Taha says before reciting an Arabic Muslim prayer.
“I have a lot of things I regret. I pray that God will pardon all of my sins. There are many things I wish to do if I survive today here. Well, we are still trembling. The earthquake is the only thing causing my hand to shake.
The adolescent continues by saying that he thinks his family and many others in the city are all dead and that he will soon follow them.
Yet, Taha was destined to be one of the first people rescued from the burning structure. Two hours later, neighbors and rescuers found him among the ruins and took him to an aunt’s home.
His parents and brothers were also saved ten hours after the earthquake by neighborhood people who dug through the building’s rubble with their bare hands and whatever equipment they could find.
When The Associated Press spoke to the family on Thursday, they were among the hundreds of thousands of people who had survived the calamity that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria and left more than 43,000 dead.
They were all living in government-provided tents.
Zeliha, Taha’s mother, who is 37, remarked, “This is my house,” as she observed workers excavating up their previous existence and loading it onto large trucks.
Boom-boom-boom, the building came tumbling down on top of us, she remembered, crying her son’s name as she was pinned beneath the rubble.
The younger Erdem children, son Yigit Cinar, 9, and daughter Semanur, 13, were sleeping in their parent’s room when the earthquake struck.
Yet, the concrete wall was so thick that Taha could not hear his mother’s calls. She could not hear her son’s pleas in the darkness; they thought the other was dead and lying within the wrecked structure.
They didn’t discover Taha had lived until Zeliha, her 47-year-old husband Ali, a hospital cleaner, and the other kids were transported to her sister’s house.
Zeliha remarked, “At that instant, the world was mine. “I have nothing except for my children.”
The Erdem family’s story is one of many touching tales of human perseverance coming out of the vast catastrophe.
After disasters, particularly earthquakes, when the world’s media documents the dwindling prospect of recovering lives as each hour passes, tales of fantastic survival frequently surface.
A 16-year-old woman was saved in Port-Au-Prince 15 days after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which left the city in ruins. A woman buried under a collapsing building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, was rescued after 17 days three years later.
17-year-old quake victim Taha Erdem recorded the moments he was trapped under the debris of his house amid aftershocks following the massive #TurkiyeQuakes on February 6.
Erdem and his family survived the quake, whereas 47 people residing in the building were reported dead. pic.twitter.com/nPvwY4ZoCf
— TRT World (@trtworld) February 15, 2023