So, 2 years ago today was the scariest day of my life. Berkay and I decided to go for a little swim in a hotel pool along the seafront and set off in the afternoon at 3ish. We got to the pool, got in and was in there for no more than 5 minutes when everything began rocking violently back and forth, the water was jolting out of the pool and all we could hear was a horrible rumbling sound and the smashing of bottles on the floor. It was clear that it was an Earthquake, but that didn’t really sink in until the swaying had stopped – it all happened so fast.
I remember sitting in the pool minding my own business when we heard it – I can’t explain the sound, but it’s creepy. It sounded a bit like a heavy truck driving rumbling right past. We looked up and saw the pool bar violently rocking back and forth – it wasn’t a gentle sway, it was really severe rocking and jolting. The entire contents of the bar smashed on the floor – adding to the awful rumbling sound. At the time, I didn’t even think to get out of the pool, just sat watching. It was all over in seconds, thank God, because had it lasted longer there would have been a lot more damage I believe! We raced out of the pool and sat on the edge, trying to take it all in, along with all the other tourists now sitting up alert on their sunbeds. The people in the neighbouring houses were all outside by now too. While sitting on the edge of the pool and discussing what had just happened, we felt the pool edge wobbling again and jumped up quickly. That was the first of many, many aftershocks.
Click HERE to see a video of CCTV footage from a shop in Fethiye as the earthquake happened!
In the panic we just got dressed and walked away from the hotel and along the beach, everyone else had run out of their hotels and restaurants and were waiting outside, I’d never seen the seafront so busy. Everyone was trying to call people, but there was no phone signal, internet or electricity. It’s scary how quickly you can be cut off to the world! Some people managed to get TVs working, which is where we saw that it was a 6.1 magnitude earthquake and the reason we felt it so strongly was because the epicenter was just out to sea from Oludeniz. It had also been felt as far as 4-5 hours away in Izmir. Luckily there was hardly any damage and the only people injured were those jumping off balconies in a panic.
We were scared to go home, we lived in a very Turkish house and wasn’t sure how safe it was – and our poor rabbit was in her cage on the balcony, but when we got there everything was fine, photos had fallen off units, we had no electricity and the fridge door had swung open meaning the contents of the freezer had defrosted, but that was it. It could have been so much worse! Thank God I wasn’t inside at the time or I wouldn’t have known what to do – I’d have curled up in a ball and cried.
That night Berkay had to go to work and I was terrified of sleeping along as there had already been HUNDREDS of aftershocks, at least 15 of them big enough to feel, but all much, much less significant than the first two. Berkay went off to work and left me at home, I had packed a bag with a change of clothes, water, passport etc ready to run outside and go somewhere safe in the event of another. I was sat on the bed anticipating another and feeling the slightest movement. I felt a few aftershocks rock the bed that were around 4.5 on the scale, and it all got too much so I grabbed my bag and laptop and went off to Berkays hotel to sleep outside on a sunbed! It wasn’t much better there – everyone else was asleep and because I was sat outside I could hear and feel even the slightest thing. I became addicted to the earthquake monitoring website (http://www.deprem.gov.tr/sarbis/Deprem/SonDepremler.aspx ) and kept checking every 5 minutes to see if I was imagining things – most of the time I wasn’t.
There were hundreds of aftershocks that went on for days, weeks and months afterwards, most not significant enough to feel. After two nights of sleeping on the sunbed at Berkay’s hotel, I felt safe enough to sleep at home alone.. Berkay went off to work, I waved at him from the kitchen window and then BAAAM, heard the fridge and plates rattling and felt the kitchen floor moving. I rang Berkay crying cos it was still so terrifying and he told me to go and sit with my neighbours who had been camping outside for the past few days as a result. They couldn’t speak a word of English so that was interesting in itself. We all slept in the car, I was in the boot. It’s really mental when you think about it, fear makes you do funny things. The driver slept with the keys in his hand incase there was a tsunami and he had to speed off. It really was that worrying!
Sleeping outside with the neighbours!
Most people are afraid of something, but most feel safe in their own home, when you can’t even trust the ground you walk on it really is scary. Until you’re in that position, you can’t understand it. I slept for weeks with a bag packed ready at the side of my bed and a glass with cutlery in so I’d hear it rattling if there was another tremor while I was sleeping. After a while I stopped checking the earthquake website and felt safer again, I don’t have a bag ready anymore – I probably should though!
I’m not writing this to scare anyone, just putting my experience out there. It was 2 years ago today and I’m over it now, but it was the scariest few days of my life! Let’s be honest – the chance of being involved in a serious earthquake is pretty slim (There are tons of mini tremors in Turkey and all over the world everyday), but in some places, like Turkey, the chance is higher than others. You’re still more likely to get run-over by a car, or a bus, or be involved in another kind of accident, but should always be prepared and have a plan in place just in case,
although to be honest, if it ever comes down to it again and I’m in the house alone, I’ll probably still ignore all my knowledge and curl up in a ball and cry.
Here’s a link to some guidelines on how to prepare, and what to do in the event of an earthquake. http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes
I was also in Hisaronu today 2 years ago! I was so scared and feeling the aftershocks were not good but would it ever stop me going back to the place I love best…… NO! Most people have put it to the back of their mind now. I think I will say that I have put it down to another “life experience” x
Yes definitely life experience x
I was living in marmaris that year and remember the earthquakes. I got used to them but the first time was scary. I was lying on the couch and got such a fright and jumped up so fast. But it was over so quick. Another time I was sitting on the beach with Zara and it felt like someone was rocking our sunbeds and we both turned round to see who it was and realised it was an earthquake. By the look on Zara’s face she got a huge fright as she had never experienced one before. Hope theres not too many there this year for you xx
Must have been awful for you and many others who went through the same experience. Your blog is so informative,not only do you share the ups and downs of your own life but also general things too. Had to smile at the thought of you sitting with your turkish neighbours who couldn’t speak English.Love to you both Morgan x
Thank you for sharing your experience. Having spent much time in Fethiye and throughout Turkey I have never felt the ground shutter as you have. Now I feel I have had the experience without having to go through it. Keep writing 🙂
Merhaba! I’ve just moved to Turkey with my husband and toddler. He’s native and we live with his family. I’m American and we were here not one month and I experienced my first real earthquake 4.5 about 2 hours away. Felt like we were on a train. I kept wanting to sit on the floor so no idea if it’s related. I’m learning Turkish so I can relate. I check the activity on an earthquake app bc there’s been more this week but minor. Now most every day I feel like I’m on a boat and get dizzy spells. Have you experienced this? And I am also living the turkish dream 🙂
Hello! 🙂 the Earthquakes are terrifying and yes can be very disorientating, sometimes they make my ears go funny and I feel dizzy but the small ones everyday we can’t feel wouldn’t have any affect I think.. although I often imagine them so maybe it’s really just in your head because you’re worrying about another? Subconsciously! 😦 … Congratulations on the move 🙂 x
Oh wow, my husband and I were there for that earthquake too. We’d just arrived in the early hours of that morning and something wasn’t right with our room so we were checking out another and standing on the balcony looking out to see (not the best place to be during an earthquake!) and suddenly everything started moving and rumbling. I wasn’t at all bothered as I said to my husband (oh there must be a train right behind us) just as he pushed me into the corner and put his body over mine to protect me while saying ‘it’s an earthquake darling, not a train’ lol! The resort only suffered minor damage but the aftershocks (I’m glad I wasn’t going mad!) meant I didn’t sleep too week for the next two weeks. One of our guides said his wife had left Fethiye to return to their village as people were scared having been reminded of the big earthquake that had flattened Fethiye decades before. Not the most reassuring of introductions to Turkey but it certainly didn’t put us off as we’ve been back 3 times since ans will be again this year!
Haha no, not the most reassuring start! A lot of locals were really scared, my neighbours slept outside for weeks! I used to hate being home alone or going in the shower/toilet incase another happened lol x