Editor’s Note: The following piece was submitted by SOFREP reader and 5th Special Forces Group veteran Paul Klopfer who was part of a recovery team at the disaster site working with Aerial Recovery. We thank him for his contribution.
Humanity Under the Rubble.
The February 6, 2023, earthquakes, centered in Kahramanmaraş and Gaziantep, Turkey, unearthed both ungodly destruction and absolute humanity, each in their purest form.
The scene in Kahramanmaraş was and is utterly terrible. Men, women, and children move handful after handful of dirt and debris, to pull loved ones from the collapsed structures. It is a collective movement of mountains: a quietly synchronized and sober effort. The unspoken despair is interrupted periodically by calls for complete silence of man and machines as all listen for any sign of life.
Increasingly rarely, a collective exclamation of hope rings out as the living are pulled from their tombs of concrete, steel, and heirlooms. The destructive fault has been answered by a communal and selfless human response; both local and international teams have united efforts against time and gravity. Noticeably absent in these moments is the presence of Afet ve Acil Durum Yönetimi Başkanlığı (AFAD), a governmental disaster management agency operating under the Turkish Ministry of Interior.
Although these initials are printed on tens of thousands of tents throughout the internally displaced persons camps, the consensus among the civilian response is that AFAD representation was insufficient in the collective recovery effort.