It was 04:17 local time when Erdem, asleep at his home in Gaziantep in southern Turkey, was jolted from his sleep by one of the most violent earthquakes ever to hit Turkey.
“I’ve never felt anything like this in the 40 years I’ve lived,” she said. “We were shaken at least three times really hard, like a baby in a cradle.”
People went to their cars to escape the damaged buildings. “I guess not a single person in Gaziantep is in their homes now,” Erdem said.
More than 130 miles west, in adana, Nilüfer Aslan was convinced that he and his family would die when the earthquake shook their fifth-floor apartment.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. We rocked for almost a minute,” she said.
“[I said to my family] ‘There’s an earthquake, at least we die together in the same place’… It was the only thing that came to mind.”
When the earthquake stopped, Aslan fled outside – “I couldn’t take anything with me, I’m outside in my slippers” – to find that four buildings surrounding his had collapsed.
In Diyarbakir300 miles to the east, people rushed to the streets to help rescuers.
“There was screaming everywhere,” a 30-year-old man told Reuters. “I started pulling stones away with my hands. We pulled out the wounded with friends, but the screaming didn’t stop. Then the [rescue] The teams have arrived.”
Elsewhere in the city, Muhittin Orakci said seven members of their family were buried in the rubble.
“My sister and her three children are there,” she told AFP. “And also her husband, her father-in-law and her mother-in-law.”
A large number of buildings have collapsed in Syria Aleppo, about a two-hour drive from the epicenter. Medical director Ziad Hage Taha said the injured were “coming in waves” after the disaster.
Özgül Konakçı, a 25-year-old who lives in Illnesshe claimed the aftershocks and freezing temperatures made matters worse.
“It’s very cold and snowing right now,” he told BBC Turkish. “Everyone is on the street, people are confused about what to do. Right before our eyes, the windows of a building have exploded due to the aftershocks”.
Ismail Al Abdullah, a rescue worker with the Syrian aid group White Helmets, worked Sarmada to save the survivors, a city near the border with Turkey.
“Many buildings in several towns and villages in northwest Syria collapsed, destroyed by this earthquake,” he said.
“We need help. We need the international community to do something, help us, support us. Northwest Syria is now a disaster area. We need everyone’s help to save our people.”