I've lost seven relatives in the Turkey earthquake

  • In Science
  • 2023-02-07 18:29:18Z
  • By BBC

As the death toll mounts following two huge earthquakes in southern Turkey and northern Syria, many in Scotland are watching in horror.

A rescue operation is under way following Monday's quakes but aid agencies are warning of a mounting humanitarian emergency in the region.

Meanwhile Turkish and Syrian people living in Scotland are struggling to get in touch with relatives caught up in the disaster.

Teyfik Kamber, a chef at Eda Turkish restaurant in Glasgow, says he has lost seven family members in the Turkish city of Elbistan.

He has been unable to contact about 20 friends and family in region and fears the worst.

"It's been really hard to talk to people," the 60-year-old told BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime programme.

"It has been very difficult. There's nothing you can say. The feeling is very, very sad, and very hard. So many villages waiting for the roads to open because there's lot of snow.

"Yesterday we got some messages from members of the family and then today we cannot hear anything from them anymore."

Tekin Esmer, a cafe owner in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, already knows the young children of his second cousins died after their home in Iskenderun collapsed during the earthquakes.

The 47-year-old is still waiting to hear if several uncles and aunts survived in the port town.

Tekin, who relocated to Scotland 20 years ago, has been in contact with his two brothers and their families.

He said: "My brothers and their families are now on the streets - their houses are too badly damaged to go back into.

"Last night one of my brothers had only two blankets to keep seven of them warm. They have nothing and their homes are being knocked down as they are unsafe. It is cold there and it is terrifying.

"I know my second cousins are under a building - their children have been brought out dead, and I am waiting for further news. I can only presume they are dead as well."


Tekin, who runs Waffles and Brew, admits he feels helpless being so far from the crisis, but hopes to do what he can from his café in Galashiels.

He added: "If I went there what can I do?

"I feel useless being here but if I can help even a little bit I'll be glad - my customers are putting money into a donation box on my counter, and I'm putting money from my takings and putting that into the fund as well.

"Once I get sorted out I'll try to collect clothing and blankets as well."

Mahmut Tas (Akdeniz Supermarket Edinburgh)
Mahmut Tas (Akdeniz Supermarket Edinburgh)  

Mahmut Tas, who works in Akdeniz supermarket in Edinburgh, said he was worried about his wife's sister, her husband and their children.

He said they could not get in contact with them or anyone else in Kahramanmaras in southern Turkey, where they live.

"Two days I have been looking at the TV, my wife is crying for home. It's very bad. So many people are affected," he said.

Cafar Karahan
Cafar Karahan  

Cafar Karaharn, who works at Turkish Kitchen in Aberdeen, said he has family and friends all over the region hit by the earthquake but he has not been able to get in touch with them.

"It's very scary, heart-breaking and upsetting," he said.

He raised concerns about the sub-zero temperatures in the region where many survivors are unable to return to their homes.

He said he had not slept since he saw the first pictures of the devastation caused by the earthquake on television.

"Sitting and crying and just dropping tears... it's not nice to watch people die in front of our eyes," he said.


Nadin Atkin, a Syrian who works at the University of Edinburgh, told BBC Scotland she arrived in Aleppo on a family visit 20 minutes after the earthquake hit on Monday morning.

"When I arrived home the floor was waving and shaking like jelly, so many people were in the streets in their pyjamas, home clothes, slippers with no jackets or warm clothes.

"We couldn't sleep or eat over the last two days. We are on unstable and unexpectable circumstances where we never know what's going to happen next, I have my bag with our passport, money... ready for any moment we have to leave."

Ms Atkin, who moved to Scotland from Syria in 2008, said people had been left homeless and without food.

"Hundreds of buildings have been destroyed over the heads of its residents. So many homes have become large graves," she said.

"The international community and everyone who wishes to send aid to the afflicted region must allocate a fair share of that aid to the forgotten region.

"Aid must enter by air and land into north-western Syria as soon as possible. The opportunity is lost for those trapped under the rubble and for those who spent last night outside in the cold and snow."

UK firefighters including some from Scotland are heading to Turkey to help with the rescue effort.

Meanwhile a Scottish Turkish charity has set up collection points in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and St Andrews to gather donations for victims of the earthquakes.

The Association of Turkish Alumni and Students in Scotland (ATAS) has arranged a plane to transport food, clothing and blankets to Turkey on Friday.

It said all sorts of donations were needed but funding was the most important.


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