Wave of solidarity for Turk photographed holding the hand of his dead daughter after the earthquake

The photograph of a father holding the hand of his dead daughterobtained by an AFP photographer, was one of the images that went around the world of the devastating earthquakes of February 6 in Turkey and Syria.

almost three weeks after that catastrophe that caused more than 44,000 deaths in TurkeyAdem Altan, the photojournalist who captured that image, met again with Mesut Hancer, a Turkish national.

This father of four children, including 15-year-old Irmak, who died under the rubble of an eight-story buildingrecently left the city of Kahramanmaras, in southeastern Turkey, and went to live in the capital Ankara.

"I also lost my mother, my brothers and my nephews in the earthquake. But there is nothing comparable to burying a son"explains this man in his 40s. "It is indescribable pain".

His family is now trying to rebuild their lives away from devastated Kahramanmaras, near the epicenter of the magnitude 7.8 quake, which also struck northern Syria.

The image of Hancer, petrified with pain and indifferent to the cold and rain, dressed in an orange anorak.symbolized the tragedy that tens of thousands of people experienced and provoked a wave of solidarity.

A businessman from Ankara offered them a house and proposed Hancer to hire him as an administrator in his private television network.

Like an angel

In the living room of his new home, has hung a painting, offered by an artist, in which Irmak is seen with angel wings next to his father.

"I have not been able to leave his hand. My daughter slept like an angel in her bed."explains this orphaned father of one of his children.

When the quake struck at 4:17 a.m. (0117 GMT), Hancer was working at his bakery.

Immediately, he called his family and learned that his house had been damaged but had not collapsed and that his wife and three of their four children were safe and sound.

But The family had no news of Irmak, the youngest of their children, who had stayed the night at her grandmother’s apartment. to spend more time with her cousins ​​from Istanbul who had come to visit them.

So, Hancer, very worried, quickly went to the grandmother’s house and there he found the collapsed building. and turned into a mountain of rubble. And among the ruins he found the corpse of his daughter.

No rescue team appeared in that area during the 24 hours after the catastrophe.

Hancer and other inhabitants had to scramble to try to find their relatives and acquaintances under the rubble.

He tried to remove the body of his dead daughter, lifting concrete blocks with his hands. It was an impossible task.

Desperate, frustrated and filled with a deep sadness, he sat down next to Irmak’s corpse.

"I took her hand, stroked her hair and kissed her cheeks"remember.

A few minutes later, he saw the photojournalist who was photographing the consequences of the earthquake. "take pictures of my daughter"she murmured to him with a voice broken by a pain difficult to forget.

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