Kay Burley in quake-hit Turkey: ‘The window is closing for good news but there’s still hope’

Kay Burley in ther Turkish city of Sanliurfa   (Sky News)
Kay Burley in ther Turkish city of Sanliurfa (Sky News)

Having travelled through the night we arrived at an airport packed with international aid workers, weary after their hastily organised relief flights.

Eager volunteers were also vying for position in the airport’s arrivals hall, keen to do what they could to help after two of the biggest earthquakes ever recorded here in south-eastern Turkey.

The volunteers, who were loaded down with water, made way as a loud-voiced organiser shouted for more doctors and nurses to follow her urgently.

Our cue to leave the medics to it, we set off along the snow-lined roads of Urfa to see for ourselves the havoc that the earthquakes have caused. Not far into our journey we were guided to what was left of a seven-storey apartment building. Until 36 hours earlier it had been home to dozens of families — now it was a nothing more than a pancake of rubble.

Worse, rescuers told us that 35 people were still trapped under the concrete and steel. Strewn around the site was the stuff of normal life: a dented fridge, a smashed-up dining table, what was once a sitting room chair.

Diggers scraped away at the debris, careful not to disturb the pile too much, anxious that one wrong move could cause the building to collapse still further.

Rescuers — covered in white dust — occasionally paused their back-breaking work to listen. To call out a name and maybe hear a cry for help. Nothing. The workers continued.

Devastated residents stood motionless on the sidelines. Among them the parents of two young children hoping they would be pulled from the rubble alive.

The work goes on hour after hour. Locals build fires on the nearby roadway to try to protect themselves and their neighbours from the cold, determined not to leave while there’s still hope. It is a scene that is being repeated in so many cities across Turkey and neighbouring Syria.

The window is closing for any rays of good news but while it’s still open there’s still hope.

* Kay Burley reporting from Sanliurfa, Turkey for Sky News