PETALING JAYA: One by one, buildings were crumbling in Osmaniye, Turkiye, as Malaysian doctor Mohamad Zikri Ahmad Tarmidi struggled to get out alive from the fourth floor of his 10- storey apartment building.
The 30-year-old general practitioner was thrown out of bed at 4.30am by earthquakes that hit the southern part of the country on Monday.
Dr Zikri, who worked at the Osmaniye Refugee Polyclinic, said he prayed as he opened his window and saw buildings collapsing.
“I saw the electricity transformer burst and then the power went out. The air was filled with dust that covered my eyes.
“One by one, the buildings were crumbling. I started looking for my passport as well as my mobile phone to make my escape,” he told The Star when contacted yesterday.
He only managed to leave the building with his notepad. But then it started to rain, making the 0°C weather even more unbearable for everyone outside.
Those who managed to flee simply ran out without any winter clothing, and some even without shoes, as they stood in the freezing cold, said Dr Zikri.
“The earthquake continued on and off, so we were still wary. Some people were crying and most were panicking because the tremors were so strong.
“We eventually made it to some shops. The owner told us to take whatever we wanted, but there wasn’t much left.
“By 8am, we could see all the devastation. The buildings were gone, there was no electricity or water or even food,” he said.
The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkiye (Afad) eventually arrived, but they were unable to provide everyone with adequate aid and shelter, according to Dr Zikri.
At 1pm, another bigger earthquake shook the region. After it stopped, Dr Zikri entered his apartment to get his passport and phone.
“I called a friend of mine and together with his family, we made it to (the city of) Adana, which is located 90 minutes away from Osmaniye,” he said.
Dr Zikri said Afad believed there could be more tremors for up to a week, “so we just have to brace ourselves”.
He said he would stay in the area to assist relief efforts rather than travel to the unaffected side of the country.
Although she was not directly affected by the earthquake, Nur Dini Mohd Rodzi, 27, was still in shock.She said Malaysian students at the Izmir Katip Celebi University, which is located on the western side of the country, were instructed to be prepared just in case.
“The earthquake happened on the southern side of Turkiye in the early morning. A lot of people were sleeping at the time and as such, were unable to escape.
“I am still in disbelief over the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that has caused so many casualties. We have been instructed to be prepared as the tremors have even reached Ankara and Konya.
“We have each prepared a bag with essential items and documents in case of an emergency,” she said.
She also heard that seven Malaysian students had been affected by the quake in Gaziantep province but were unharmed.
“We are still getting more information on Malaysian students here. Some of them did not register with the embassy. We are praying for their safety,” she added.
The Malaysian government had formed a task force to coordinate humanitarian aid efforts to Turkiye and Syria, Bernama reported.
The task force is headed by the Foreign Ministry and National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma).Wisma Putra has advised Malaysians in Turkiye, Syria and nearby countries to stay vigilant and follow the latest developments while complying with local authorities.
They are also advised to contact the Malaysian Embassies in Amman, Ankara, or Beirut, the Malaysian Consulate General in Istanbul, or the Malaysian Honorary Consulate in Damascus for immediate assistance.Previously, it was reported that no Malaysians were affected by the disaster. So far, over 11,000 people have been reported killed in Turkiye and Syria.