More than 20,000 people are now known to have been killed in the earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria, making it one of the deadliest disasters in a decade.
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“He Never Left The Hand Of His Daughter Who Died In The Earthquake”: As men clamber over the ruins of the pancaked building, now shaped like a pyramid of rubble, one man sits still.
Wearing an orange coat to protect himself from the winter freeze, Mesut Hançer perches on concrete slabs and twisted rebar — all that remains of the apartment block in Kahramanmaras, a Turkish city close to the epicenter of Monday’s earthquake.
His face is still — his expression, blank. He is grief-stricken but resolute: He won’t let go of his daughter’s hand.
“He Never Left The Hand Of His Daughter Who Died In The Earthquake”: Irmak, 15, was killed when the building collapsed. The girl’s body is sandwiched between a mattress, dirt, and the colossal weight of the upper floors of the building. All that peeks out is a lifeless, pale hand that her father steadfastly grips.
“He never left the hand of his daughter who died in the earthquake,” wrote Adem Atlan, the photographer with Agence France-Presse who took the pictures of the grieving father on Tuesday, in an Instagram story uploaded Wednesday.
Altan’s photos went viral online and were printed on newspaper front pages around the world on Wednesday from Turkey to Spain to the UK to the US.
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“With the courage of despair,” read the headline accompanying the photo in Belgium’s De Standaard newspaper.
“He Never Left The Hand Of His Daughter Who Died In The Earthquake”: “A glimpse of pain and desperation among the ruins,” Brazil’s O Globo paper wrote in its headline for the picture.
“He Never Left The Hand Of His Daughter Who Died In The Earthquake”: A 2015 photo of Mesut and Irmak uploaded by the girl to Facebook shows the father and daughter smiling as they pose by a small water fountain. Almost eight years later, a different photo of the pair has been seen across the globe and become a defining image of tragedy.