'We wake up shaking': Family who were trapped under rubble describe ongoing horror after earthquake

Sejal Karia reports from the city of Adiyaman where 17-year-old Taha Erdem was rescued

Words by ITV News Producer Catherine Dinneny

A teenager who filmed a farewell message while trapped under the rubble has told ITV News he fears he will suffocate in his sleep.

Taha Erdem was in bed when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck his hometown of Adiyaman, Turkey, in the early hours of February 6th. On Monday February 20th, a new 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey's Hatay province. 

Buried under a multi-storey apartment block, Taha recorded what he believed to be his final video asking for forgiveness, hoping it would be found after his death.

In the video, he said: "We are still shaking. Death, my friends, comes at a time when one is least expecting it.

"There are many things that I regret. May God forgive me of all my sins."

In what he thought would be his final video, Taha Erdem asked for forgiveness and recited a prayer. You can see the wreckage shaking from aftershocks and hear the distant screams of others who were also trapped.

Miraculously, he was rescued by brave locals along with his parents and siblings, but they are now haunted by trauma as they come to terms with what they see as their 'fate' as survivors.

Taha said: "Sometimes, when I sleep at night, I remember the bodies I took out of that building. My friends, my aunt, my cousins. I relive it."

The 17-year-old became trapped in the wreckage when the building collapsed. He had been knocked unconscious and was separated from his parents and siblings, who were sleeping in another room.

"When I woke up, I was crushed by the rubble," he said. "I was in so much pain. There was so much dust, it was terrible. I couldn't breathe.

"I was calling out for my family but I couldn't hear anything. I thought they were dead."

With every aftershock, the wreckage pushed down on Taha even more. After managing to shift some of the rubble around his feet, Taha shuffled forward and was pulled out by other survivors who had been digging with their bare hands.

Taha Erdem (left) is reunited with a friend who helped him after he'd been pulled out of the rubble. Credit: ITV News

Ten hours later, Taha's family were pulled out alive, including his younger brother who turned nine on the day of the earthquake. Just minutes later, the second earthquake struck.

Taha said: "Thankfully they were all OK. I came out of the left side of the building. The building fell down on its side onto cars, but this is probably how my family were saved as the building was cushioned by cars as it collapsed."

They were the lucky ones. Only 13 of the apartment block's 60 residents survived.

While stood outside his former home, Taha was reunited with the first familiar face he saw after being pulled out of the wreckage, Kerem Demir.

Kerem told ITV News: "I looked at the street ahead and Taha's building was gone. I ran towards it and saw him on top of the building.

"I asked him what was going on and he was disorientated and said everybody was dead.

"Taha was very cold, my heart was broken. It wasn't until around 12.30pm that the rest of Taha's family were rescued."

But even though they survived the earthquake, the fear of it has not gone away.

Taha's father, Ali, said: "[Being rescued] was like coming out of a grave. Now we don't know if we are alive or not. There is a knot here," he says, pointing at his chest.

"We can't even sleep at night. My wife jumps out of bed, shaking, and she gets scared a lot. The children jump up and run out of the tent. It's difficult to fall into a deep sleep."

Taha added: "When I pull up the blanket because I'm cold, I feel like I'm going to suffocate under the rubble again. I didn't feel like that in the moment, but now I do. I daren't go inside any building, it's very traumatic."

The Erdem family are now staying in a government-provided tent in a car park not far from the apartment block.

Where they go from here is unclear, but they are grateful to be alive.

"We were dead and we've risen again," said Ali. "It's that simple."