Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria: this is the image that moved the whole world

Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria: here is the image that moved the world


A photographer for forty years, fifteen of them with AFP, Adem Altan was working in front of a collapsed building in Kahramanmaras, at the epicenter of the earthquake that killed more than 14,000 people in Turkey alone, when he saw the man sitting in the rubble. 

No rescue team had yet arrived on the spot on Tuesday, the day after the disaster, the inhabitants tried to clear the ruins themselves to save their loved ones.

The man in the orange jacket remained motionless in the middle tumult, insensitive to rain and cold.

Adem Altan then realized that the man, 60 meters away from him, was holding a hand in his.

  • Listen to Patrick Villardry in the rubble in Turkey on Philippe-Vincent Foisy's show broadcast via QUB radio: 

He began to “shoot” the scene: the father holding the hand of his dead child without letting go, in the rubble and devastation.

While he was taking the pictures, the man followed him with his eyes.

“Take pictures of my child,” he whispered to Adem, his voice cracking and shaking.

He left the hand he didn't want to leave for a moment to show the photographer the place where his 15-year-old daughter lay.

Before immediately taking her back.

“I was so touched at that moment. I was crying. I kept thinking to myself, “My god, this is unbearable pain”, says the photographer.

Adem then asked her name, as well as the name of her child.

“My daughter, Irmak”, replied the father, Mesut Hancer.

“He spoke with difficulty, in a very low voice. It was hard to ask him any more questions as the locals around them asked people to be quiet so they could hear the voices of any survivors trapped under the rubble,” says the photographer.

At this At that moment, he immediately thought that the image summed up the pain of the victims of the earthquake. Without imagining the impact it would have.

Covered by the press around the world, it also went viral on social networks, shared hundreds of thousands of times by upset Internet users.< /p>

Adem Altan has received thousands of messages from all over the world expressing their solidarity and their emotion in the face of the grief of this orphan father.

“I think this is a photo that will remain engraved in memories. Many have told me that they will never forget this image,” he confides. Neither does he.