A grief-stricken father has been pictured grasping the hand of his teenage daughter crushed to death after earthquakes tore through Turkey and Syria.
Crouching alone in the rubble, Mesut Hancer kept hold of Irmak, 15, trapped beneath a slab of concrete and a mattress in the remains of an apartment block.
She died yesterday in the south-eastern Turkish region of Kahramanmaraş, the epicentre of a powerful earthquake that wrought destruction and tragedy.
The earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks killed at least 6,000 people yesterday in a humanitarian disaster of incomprehensible proportions.
Rescuers are braving near-freezing temperatures to dig through collapsed buildings now dusted by snow in search of survivors.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) fears the death toll could reach 20,000 and today warned the quakes have impacted 23 million people – including 1.4 million children whose homes may have collapsed on them.
The first 7.8-magnitude earthquake erupted in the Pazarcık district of Kahramanmaraş at at 4.17am yesterday followed only hours later by a second 7.7-magnitude quake.
The tremors wiped out homes across a 200-mile stretch from Aleppo and Hama in Syria to Diyarbakir in Turkey.
Aerial footage released by the Syrian emergency service group, the White Helmets, showed rows upon rows of flattened buildings after the two tremors.
A third 5.8-magnitude earthquake came after, shaking and toppling over countless buildings damaged but still standing.
Photographs and videos from the scene have shown countless people using their bare hands to dig through the rubble, desperate to find friends, family and neighbours.
The first quake, which entered near Gaziantep in south-central Turkey, shuddered several nearby nations, including Cyprus, Egypt, Israel and Lebanon.
It was the most powerful quake recorded in Turkey since 1939, when one killed 30,000 people, Stephen Hicks, a seismology researcher at Imperial College London, tweeted.
‘In fact, without too much doubt, I think today’s earthquake might go down as the joint largest – if not the largest,’ he said.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said 13 million people among the country’s population of 85 million were impacted by the tremors.
He has declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces to manage the response.
More than 8,000 people so far have been pulled from the debris in Turkey, Turkish vice-president Fuat Oktay said today.
Around 380,000 people have taken refuge inside government shelters or hotels, while others have huddled in shopping centres, stadiums and mosques.
But rescue efforts will be muddied by days of snow and temperatures below zero ahead, according to Turkish weather agencies.