The World According To...

The dogs howled, as the army slumbered on: Horror of a Turkish earthquake

August 1999: Robert Fisk speaks to the people caught in a terrible earthquake in Turkey and asks, where was the military?

Saturday 05 February 2022 21:30
<p>A Kaynasli family sit on what is left of their possessions after the earthquakes </p>

A Kaynasli family sit on what is left of their possessions after the earthquakes

At around 3am on Saturday 14 August, Kanieh Topal woke in her three-storey apartment block in the western suburbs of Izmit to hear a strange sound. “All the dogs were howling,” she said. “They didn’t bark, they howled – like this.” And Mrs Topal made a high, ululating sound like a woman in mourning. “The dogs made the same sound on Sunday and again in the early morning on Monday. Then the cat sat on the floor, gripping the carpet with her claws.” On the other side of the road, her neighbour Kadir Akgul remembers the dogs on the Monday night, howling “not like dogs but wolves”.

Nature, it seems, was trying to warn the people of Izmit and Yalova and Golcuk and Istanbul and a thousand other towns and villages across 450 miles of Turkey. Twelve miles beneath them, the great tectonic plates of the north Anatolian rock fault had begun to move again. On Monday, they say in Yalova, the birds went silent but began to fly from tree to tree, never resting on a branch for more than a few seconds.

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