Documenting the damage of the earthquakes in Turkey last month.
Times Graphics reporters Anjali Singhvi and Bedel Saget recently traveled to Antakya, a Turkish city badly damaged by February's earthquakes. Based on their reporting they published an article this week that walks through the damage in Antakya's Old City, a commercial and religious hub. The initial quakes were a few weeks ago, but the damage continues to dominate life in much of Turkey and Syria. I spoke with Anjali and Bedel about what they saw in Antakya. Ashley: What surprised you about Antakya's destruction? Bedel: I had in my mind what the destruction would look like, but when you drive around and see residential building after residential building flattened, it stops you in your tracks. We saw a building split in half - half had collapsed and half was still standing - and we could see an entire dining room set still present on the third floor, as though it was a doll house.
Times graphics reporters use satellite imagery to reconstruct disaster sites. Why is being in Antakya important for this project? Anjali: Before the trip, I had identified some areas from drone imagery of Antakya that seemed the most damaged, and speculated that those areas could be good to cover. When I was reporting on the ground, all the locals talked about an area I hadn't considered: Old City, a historic part of Antakya. Old City was home to so many different buildings - churches, mosques, a synagogue, restored boutique hotels, jewelry shops, silk stores, a local favorite hummus shop, just real gems. We saw government officials putting up signs on various buildings in Old City, labeling them as important cultural assets and warning people not to tamper with the debris. From where I was there I saw that Antakya had history in its soil, its buildings and its people. It was Old City that brought the community together. Did you get the sense of residents wanting to stay as Antakya rebuilds? Bedel said that a number of people left if they had the means to: Either they had family in other parts of Turkey or if they had homes elsewhere. Everyone we spoke to talked about the commitment to rebuild, no matter what it was.
I felt that it was what made Old City a gathering spot - the atmosphere, the aura, the embrace of different cultures. I talked to a young woman who recently graduated from medical school, who said, It was good before, but we didn't understand before we lost our city, how important it was to us. See what was lost in Antakya's Old City, through one street at the heart of the community. Anjali is a reporter and a former architect whose work at The Times includes reconstructing building disasters, such as a Bronx apartment fire and Miami's Surfside condo collapse. In 1991, Bedel joined The Times and covered nine Olympic Games, including hurricanes, wildfires and wildfires.