International rescue missions have rushed to Turkey and Syria after one of the most powerful earthquakes to hit the region in at least a century left more than 4,800 people dead, thousands injured and an unknown number trapped in the rubble.

The early-morning quake and dozens of aftershocks brought down entire apartment blocks in Turkey and heaped more destruction on Syrian communities already devastated by over a decade of war.

Turks increasingly vented their anger online about what they said was a negligent emergency response in the southernmost province of Hatay, with many complaining that rescue efforts had failed to reach the area. In Hatay, the quake levelled multiple government buildings including the local chapter of Turkey’s disaster relief agency, the AFAD.

“I am so angry,” said analyst Gönül Tol, of the Middle East Institute in Washington. “There are no rescue teams from the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management in Hatay. People are trying to dig out loved ones trapped under rubble. It is cold, raining, no electricity. One family member is trapped under a heavy concrete slab, waiting for rescue workers for hours.”

Some Turkish civilians increasingly took it on themselves to help. 25-year-old nurse Nihal Atasoy spoke as she waited to board a flight to Adana, after deciding to volunteer with the rescue effort.

“I used to live in Osmaniye, but when I called I couldn’t reach my friends there in the hours after the quake. When I finally got through to them they said things like ‘my house is in ruins.’ So I decided to volunteer, as I normally work in intensive care,” she said. “Honestly, I don’t know what I’ll find when I get to Adana, whether I will try to save people trapped under the rubble, or work in the hospital as a nurse.”


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