The community was destroyed by a Turkish apartment building, with only three of the 15 homes remaining

Image of Ceyda with a cellphone photo taken outside her window

An uncannily well-preserved window frame with a curtain in the shape of a butterfly flutters in the chilly wind on a vague mound of rubble in southern Turkey.

"This is Ceyda's bedroom.

Ceyda Ocan, then 19 years old, peered out that window and through those curtains onto her street in the city of Iskenderun prior to the earthquake. Damla, Ceyda's best friend, is currently on the street with her family to keep watch at the collapsed apartment building in the hopes that Ceyda is still alive.

When Damla was six and Ceyda was eight, the two of them met in the neighborhood and became good friends. On a recent shopping trip, they bought those curtains together.

Weeping, Damla says, "We both love butterflies. A photo of a birthday cake Ceyda and her sister made for Damla can be found on her phone. It is decorated with butterflies and has the icing message: "Who loves you the most in the world? Us, of course!".

Orcan, Ceyda's apartment building, was one of a group of mid-rise pink and beige buildings with small balconies that were all ground-floor commercial spaces in the heart of Iskenderun. Ceyda and the other Orcan residents would have been sleeping when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck at 04:17 on Monday.

The tremor's strength caused the block to collapse.

This week, numerous structures in southern Turkey were completely destroyed, but Orcan—home to Ceyda and her family as well as the occupants of 14 other flats—is the subject of this narrative. In the days following the earthquake, they gathered around Orcan, praying for the best and remembering their loved ones.

On Wednesday, after more than a day of digging, a survivor who was one of Ceyda's neighbors was found. This gave us one fleeting moment of joy.

She was able to say that she had spoken to Ceyda through the collapsed walls and that Ceyda had assured her that she was fine, according to rescuers and locals. Officials cautioned that the survivor was confused and that it might not have actually occurred. There were no new developments by Friday.

Three days in a row, we returned to Orcan to observe the impromptu rescue operations, the people running away in search of safety, and the makeshift field hospitals constructed for survivors. Three survivors were known to the rescuers and neighbors; the remaining victims have not been located.

Before and after images show apartment blocks which have collapsed in Iskenderun, Turkey as a result of the earthquake

The people present claimed that Orcan was a close-knit community where neighbors frequently visited one another's homes for tea or potent Turkish coffee.

Residents of Orcan and other nearby buildings had WhatsApp groups and scheduled regular get-togethers. According to a local man, "it was like, your place this week, yours next.". "This is how Turkey does it.

The owner of the neighborhood grocery store, Damla's uncle Emrullah, clenched his hands when asked about the neighborhood. Like this, he replied.

Orcan has endured for a long time. One man said, "I'm 50 years old and I remember walking past it on my way to and from school.".

Locals claimed that Orcan's row's buildings collapsed "like dominoes" after the earthquake. Similar buildings on either side of the line of destruction appeared undamaged, and their occupants spoke with a mixture of guilt and relief.

A few of the residents of Orcan were familiar faces to Cansu, a nearby paramedic. She claimed that after the earthquake, she ran from her house to the entrance of Ceyda's street by going around the corner.

The structures in that row have since collapsed into one another, creating a mass of trash. Only a few remnants of its inhabitants are visible: a kite decorated with Frozen characters, a Quran that has been torn, a white oven that has been squashed, and a red-rimmed clock that has been frozen in time.

A man reached beneath Ceyda's curtains and pulled out a phone, his grandfather living in the building next door, a swimming enthusiast who also enjoyed beer and stuffed peppers.

The background image was his grandfather's face, and it was still functional. The man grinned in a glum way.

Graphic showing who lived on which floor in the Orcan apartment building. Ceyda and her parents lived on the third floor

On the first floor of the apartment building, a mother, Sehvar, 63, and her nonverbal daughter Derya resided.

Family members who were observing the rescue operations said the couple spent the majority of their time together at home, with Sehvar taking care of her daughter.

Derya's sister Deniz, who traveled from her home two hours away to be at the wreckage, said that even if Derya is alive and hears the sounds asking if anyone is outside, she will not be able to respond.

University graduate Berk resided on the opposite side of the building, on the same floor. One man joked that since he was frequently observed drinking Coca-Cola in the neighborhood, he must consume several liters of the beverage daily.

He was described as "intelligent," "sociable," and "handsome" by many people.

A person holds a phone showing a picture of a man
Both Berk's mother and brother made it through the earthquake.

Dogukan, Berk's brother, claimed that following the earthquake, he and his mother were buried beneath the debris at the foot of the building but were quickly rescued. He claimed to have waited nine hours under the rubble and criticized the official rescue operation.

Although neighbors reported that he was saved after managing to call his other brother, who was not at home at the time of the earthquake, for help, he claimed that he did not want to talk about the experience any more while his brother was still missing.

Berk hasn't been seen in days, and his mother is currently being treated in a hospital for injuries while reportedly stating to the staff: "I can't feel my feet, and my son is trapped inside.".

Hatice, 64, and Derya, 33, lived on the second floor with another mother and daughter.

A family member compared the couple to Tom and Jerry.

Every action taken by one was counteracted by the other. However, they were dependent on one another, according to the relative. They are likely only a few inches apart right now.

Mevlut, Derya's father and Hatice's ex-husband, has awaited updates on the couple every day.

A man stands by a crumpled car
As the building collapsed, Mevlut expressed his hope that his daughter had found a safe place to hide.

He cupped his hands around his face for emphasis as he described his daughter as "beautiful" and "full of life.".

He claimed that Derya was in charge of making sure that the workplace was safe.

By knowing "where to go, what to do, and how to act" in an emergency, she would be prepared.

In the hope that she would "lead her mother and others to a safe place in the building," he maintained his positive attitude and had complete faith in his daughter's abilities.

Her parents shared a third-floor apartment with Ceyda. Despite having left the house, her older sister was still close by. Her sister had to be carried away when she arrived at Orcan following the earthquake, according to the neighbors who had gathered.

Around the corner from her were her grandparents. The earthquake completely demolished their building as well.

They are a close-knit family, according to family members, and the parents make the ideal couple.

Cengiz, Ceyda's father, ran a parts store. Family members say they are concerned about her mother's reaction if she is rescued from the rubble only to discover that her parents have also passed away. Her mother had lost two of her sisters earlier in life.

Within minutes of walking onto the street, Ceyda's popularity with the locals is obvious. Her current and former boyfriends join the search for her, and their faces light up when they think of memories of her.

A picture of Ceyda, shown on a friend's phone
The family and friends of Ceyda hope that she can still be located.

She was described as outgoing and considerate, and she had been working hard to get into an Istanbul university this year so that she could study with Damla.

Damla claims that Ceyda's favorite activity is getting coffee and that she frequently drove her friends around in her white Volkswagen.

The vehicle's windshield is cracked, and it is now parked just yards from the demolished apartment complex. Inside is a red lighter that can be seen.

Before heavy machinery entered the room on Friday and pushed those butterfly curtains into the rubble, rescue workers asked through Ceyda's window if anyone was still alive.

Damla claims that she is steadfast in her belief that Ceyda "will smile again" and be discovered safe.

One survivor was pulled out while we stayed nearby, learning about its occupants from friends and family.

It was Ferdane, a popular single mother of 50 in the neighborhood.

She was the survivor who reported speaking with Ceyda.

She was injured and distressed, according to rescuers, and was taken to the hospital, where her adult son was by her bedside.

One of the workers said that as she was being removed, she had inquired as to how long she had been buried.

"Two weeks, mama," her son retorted. "She estimated that the time was six.

However, by Friday, rescue personnel had informed the waiting families that there would not be any more survivors.

They claimed that if there were, it would be a miracle.

UPDATE: Ceyda's body, along with those of her mother and father, were discovered not long after this article was published. In Iskenderun, her family buried them right away.

Emrah Bulut, Nihan Kalle, and Tural Ahmedzade contributed additional reporting. Hale Akhtay and Alice Cuddy's photography and Dominic Bailey's visual journalism.

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