It was 04:17 local time when Erdem, sleeping in his home in Gaziantep, in southern Turkey, was shaken from his sleep by one of Turkey’s biggest earthquakes ever.
“I have not felt anything like it in the 40 years that I have lived,” he said. “We were shaken at least three times very strongly, like a child in a crib.”
People took to their cars to escape the damaged buildings. “Imagine that there is not a single person in Gaziantep in their homes now,” said Erdem.
More than 130 miles west, i Athanasius, Nilüfer Aslan was sure that he and his family would die when the earthquake shook their fifth floor apartment.
“I have never seen anything like this in my life. We were swinging for close to one minute,” he said.
“[I said to my family] ‘There’s an earthquake, at least we’ll die together in the same place’… It was the only thing that crossed my mind.”
When the shaking stopped, Aslan ran outside – “I couldn’t take anything with me, I’m standing outside in slippers” – to find that four buildings had collapsed around him.
I Diyarbakır300 miles east, people rushed into the streets to help rescuers.
“There was screaming everywhere,” one 30-year-old man told Reuters. “I started pulling rocks with my hands. We pulled out the injured with friends, but the screaming didn’t stop. Then the [rescue] teams came.”
Elsewhere in the city, Muhittin Orakci said seven members of his family were buried in the rubble.
“My sister and her three children are there,” he told AFP. “And also her husband, her father-in-law and her mother-in-law.”
In Syria, a large number of buildings collapsed i Aleppo, about a two-hour drive from the epicentre. Health director Ziad Hage Taha said wounded people were “coming in waves” after the disaster.
Özgül Konakçı, a 25-year-old who lives in Malatyasaid the former crowd – and the freezing weather – made things worse.
“It’s very cold and it’s snowing right now,” she told BBC Turkish. “Everyone is in the streets, people are confused about what to do. Right before our eyes, the windows of a building exploded due to aftershocks.”
Ismail Al Abdullah – a rescuer from the Syrian humanitarian group, White Helmets – is working there Sarmada to rescue survivors, a town near the border with Turkey.
“Many buildings collapsed in various cities and villages in northwestern Syria, destroyed by this earthquake,” he said.
“We need help. We need the international community to do something, to help us, to support us. Northwest Syria is now a disaster area. We need everyone’s help to save our people.”