They were trapped together when their home collapsed in the earthquake that is now known to have killed over 45,000 people. The two then faced a few agonizing days apart as Gada was rescued and taken to the hospital.
“When it started to shake, I grabbed my daughter and my whole family started running away,” Ahmet said. “The building collapsed on top of us all.”
His wife and child did not make it out alive. Ahmet could hear his son’s screams while he was trapped. He had his daughter beside him. She was lying on his leg and the two of them were trapped, unable to free themselves.
Debris reached up to the neck. On the fourth day under the rubble, he said he was giving up hope. He was in pain. His foot was badly damaged. But his daughter did not let him lose hope of being saved.
“My daughter was telling me over and over that Daddy doesn’t cry. Relax. They are coming to rescue us,” Ahmet said.
She told him to look at the light that was shining. And low and behold, suddenly they heard voices. They were being rescued.
Gada was the first to be removed with just a scratch. Half an hour later, they managed to dig up Ahmet. But she was placed in social services care while he was institutionalized.
When he lost sight of his daughter, he knew he would see her again if it was the last thing he did.
He went on Facebook and Instagram, showing her picture and begging anyone to help find her. Eventually, it was a relative who found out that social services had a healthy girl with no parents.
“She kept me alive.” He said of his constant encouragement for days under the rubble. “That’s my little girl. She’s my hero. She’s my hero”
They will have to deal with the loss of Gada’s mother and 7-year-old brother, but Ahmet and his daughter have each other to love and care for and that’s enough, he said.
‘Please help me find my mother’
Meanwhile, 14-year-old Can Gürsoy in Konya City says that to put the matter to rest he needs to see his mother again. He was buried in a collapsed building with his family. He and his sister made it out alive. His mom still hasn’t been found in the pancake house.
“All I ask of you is to help me find my mother Şükran Erden.” He told CNN.
The teen has a black eye and a sore foot, but is otherwise physically fine. But the psychological trauma of being trapped for 24 hours in the tightest of spaces can haunt you for a while.
“I remember the building collapsing. I remember passing out after a piece of the building fell into my eye,” said Can. “It was so hard to breathe in there. And there was something crushing my leg making me suffer.”
He tried everything to get someone’s attention. He had his cell phone in his hand for a few minutes and managed to type a message to the family’s WhatsApp chat. He then tried calling emergency services, but none of them connected and no one could hear him screaming.
What saved him was a curtain. Pulling it drew the attention of rescuers. And not long after he was pulled out of the rubble.
Can usually spends his time playing video games or basketball (he’s a huge Los Angeles Lakers fan). But for now, his heart is set on seeing his mother again. Since her body has not been found, he hopes beyond hope that she has been rescued and is in a hospital somewhere.
He says it was the thought of her love and the love of his family and friends that kept him sane while he was buried and he hopes that same love is strong enough to somehow bring her back to him.
Rescue teams are still looking for survivors – three more were found on Saturday. But nearly two weeks after the earthquake, there will soon be no more happy reunions.