It was 04:17 local time when Erdem, asleep at his home in Gaziantep, southern Turkey, was shaken from his sleep by one of Turkey’s biggest-ever earthquakes.
“I have never felt anything like it in the 40 years I’ve lived,” he said. “We were shaken at least three times very strongly, like a baby in a crib.”
People went to their cars to escape the damaged buildings. “I imagine not a single person in Gaziantep is in their homes now,” Erdem said.
More than 130 miles west, in Adana, Nilüfer Aslan was convinced he and his family would day when the quake shook their fifth floor apartment.
“I have never seen anything like this in my life. We swayed for close to one minute,” he said.
“[I said to my family] ‘There is an earthquake, at least let’s die together in the same place’… It was the only thing that crossed my mind.”
When the quake paused, Aslan fled outside – “I couldn’t take anything with me, I’m standing outside in slippers” – to find that four buildings surrounding his own had collapsed.
In Diyarbakir, 300 miles east, people rushed into the streets to help rescuers.
“There was screaming everywhere,” one 30-year-old man told Reuters. “I started pulling rocks away with my hands. We pulled out the injured with friends, but the screaming didn’t stop. Then the [rescue] teams came.”
Elsewhere in the city, Muhittin Orakci said seven members of their family were buried in the rubble.
“My sister and her three children are there,” he told AFP. “And also her husband, her father-in-law and her mother-in-law.”
In Syria, a large number of buildings collapsed in Aleppo, around a two-hour drive from the epicentre.
Health director Ziad Hage Taha said wounded people are “arriving in waves” following the disaster.