Far from Turkey's earthquake zone, volunteers seek ways to help
In the aftermath of Turkey's killer quakes, there is desperation among survivors and increasing anger over the government's response. But many people across the country are mobilising to help.
Throughout the night, people in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, bring supplies for earthquake survivors. Two wedding halls are now one of many distribution centres for aid donated from across the city.
"We opened the wedding cocktail halls this morning. There is incredible help coming from everywhere," beamed Elif Polat, the cocktail salon manager, who is now organising the sending of aid to quake survivors.
"The aid is mostly food, blankets and duvets, as well as hygiene goods, diapers and an incredible amount of things, all top quality," added Polat.
"Yesterday, we had a crisis for 10 minutes or so about the number of cardboard boxes we had; we put out a message on social media, and heaps, heaps of boxes arrived immediately. It is awe-inspiring and beautiful."
Hundreds of volunteers work through the night. For some, the motivation is personal.
Ali Can Kocak said: "I am volunteering because my parents live in Adana, and my friends in Antakya, where the earthquakes hit the ground.
"And I can't go to those places. So I want to help people, and the nearest donation place to my house is here. And I will come here, and my friends will come here."
Istanbul mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, from the opposition CHP party is coordinating the city's relief effort, providing trucks and the use of city buildings.
During a visit to the disaster region to meet with search and rescue teams dispatched from Istanbul, he offered condolences to people irreconcilable with grief.
Ankara's mayor Mansur Yavas – also a member of the opposition – sent workers to rebuild one of the airports in the stricken region.
The mayors' efforts are in stark contrast with growing criticism that the Turkish government was slow to respond to the quakes.
As desperation grows, survivors criticise Turkey's earthquake response
"They appeared to be competent, effective, and able to mobilise their resources much more rapidly," said political scientist Soli Ozel of Istanbul's Kadir Has University.
"Which shows that if you take the issue of earthquakes seriously and you make your preparations in responding to earthquakes, you can actually move mountains.
"It also shows that the opposition is capable of getting things done, contrary to claims on the part of the government and also to our own observations about the opposition that they can actually administer things, they can actually manage things.
"And in that sense, it was truly a matter of taking the quake issue seriously, and evidently, our government did not," claimed Ozel.
Memories of Izmit
The government denies such criticism, arguing the disaster is a once-in-a-century event.
But there was similar criticism in 1999 over the response to the Izmit earthquake just outside Istanbul, which claimed more than 18,000 lives.
Memories of that disaster are still fresh in the minds of some survivors, and serve as motivation to help in this latest crisis.
"I experienced the 1999 Izmit earthquake. We lived through that disaster. It was extremely hard for us," remembers aid volunteer Yilmaz, who wanted to go by only his first name.
"Now I saw this earthquake and I relived those moments. That's why I couldn't sit at home and drink tea and wanted to rush here and offer help."
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Diapers, antiseptic cologne and other sanitary products are priority items as Istanbul comes together to help.
"From the oldest to the youngest, there is an incredible unity here," said aid organiser Polat.
"I can see in everyone's eyes there is huge sorrow, but they are getting strength and motivation from this sadness," he said.
"I have been here for the last 25 years. I understood one more time in the last few days that we Turks are very strong."
A truck filled to bursting point is off to the disaster region, bringing help and hope to some of the millions of people in need.