Some 12,000 people died as a result of a catastrophic earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude in Turkey and Syria that left around 6,000 buildings destroyed. The rescue effort remains ongoing but crews are having trouble reaching the affected areas because the infrastructure has been destroyed. More than a hundred aftershocks have also hit the region, which has only added to the death toll. The U.S. State Department has confirmed that at least three Americans died in the quake.
Emma Ozdemir, an advanced clinical practitioner who has worked with the U.K.’s National Health Service for 25 years, said her husband Seyhmus, who is from Turkey, lost two of his brothers, his sister, mother, and father in the blast.
“It’s hard for people to understand the true scale of this devastation and just how long any recovery will take,” she said of the situation.
Ozdemir and her husband were in the U.K. when the earthquake hit.
“My husband owns a wine bar in the Jewellery Quarter and was skyping his family into the early hours on Monday as he usually does but several hours afterwards heard about the earthquake followed by another one. It’s so hard to even have a slight understanding of just how awful this is,” she explained.
And now five of their family members are gone.
“His family home just dropped like a concertina, completely destroyed. One of our nephews is a businessman and he has been able to secure a bunker for the women and children while the men join in with the rescue efforts, desperately hoping to be able to pull people alive from all the rubble.”
The frigid weather has also made life difficult for the thousands of people who have been displaced.
“The weather isn’t helping as there’s intermittent snow showers too at the moment – imagine having to try to cope with this on top of everything else.”
Ozdemir met her husband in Turkey before moving to England in 2005. They now have two sons, Baran, 16, and Roni, 15.
“Seyhmus has cascaded emails to businesses in his area to help with relief that is being sent out via the Turkish Embassy and I’d like to urge everyone to support any appeals they can too please,” she said. “People have literally nothing. They need clothes, blankets, food and drink. Our family was lucky enough to receive food and drink earlier this week and we are so grateful. It is just beyond words how people are suffering.”
Several charitable organizations are currently collecting donations to help with the relief efforts. Visit Charity Navigator to learn more.