Earthquake devastates Turkey and Syria


Vydalia Weatherly, Staff writer

On Monday, Feb. 6, a historic 7.8 earthquake struck parts of Syria and Turkey. As a result, an estimated 400,000 people from Turkey and Syria are left homeless, and that number is expected to grow. According to the president of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Agency, Yunus Sezer, approximately 40,000 people in Turkey died as a result of the earthquake as of Saturday, Feb. 18, and that number is expected to grow as rescue efforts continue. According to unofficial reports, approximately 4,330 people have died in Syria, but the final death toll has yet to be determined.

On Saturday morning, 31-yearold International Ghanaian soccer player, Christian Atsu’s body was recovered from the rubble from a luxury 12-story building. At the time of his death, Atsu was a member of the Turkish Super Lig Club Hatayspor. “We will not forget you,” the soccer club said in a recent statement. “There are no words to describe our sadness.” Almost two weeks have passed since the devastating earthquake. Remarkably, rescue crews are still pulling survivors from the rubble. In the same city Atsu passed, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported that a Kyrgyzstan search team rescued Samir Muhammed Accar, 49, and his wife Ragda, 40, from rubble of their apartment building. Anadolu published photos on Twitter of former Pennsylvania Senate Candidate and Turkish-American TV Personality Mehmet Oz visiting Accar in the hospital after his rescue. According to Anadolu, Accar reportedly told Oz he survived the 296 hours trapped under the rubble by drinking his own urine.

Accar added that for the first few days he could hear his children’s voices, but after that could no longer. Two of their childrens’ bodies were recovered from the rubble. The couple’s 12-year-old son was rescued, but passed away in the hospital a few hours later. In response to the earthquakes, companies and organizations in Erie are assisting where they can by sending money and resources to the impacted nations. “We have a huge office in Turkey in many different locations, including in the affected area,” said Yuriy Ostapyak, C.O.O. of Logistics Plus to Erie News Now.

All employees affected, according to Ostapyak, are safe. “We are just shipping the bare necessities from our European offices,” said Ostapyak. “We are also purchasing stuff in other parts of Turkey and Istanbul and other regions and then taking it directly to the affected areas. We’re also working on purchasing containers that are going to repurpose into homes. It’s terrible to see what has happened.”

Currently, Logistics Plus is holding a fundraiser for disaster relief efforts and have said they will match every cent donated (Turkey Relief Fund – Logistics Plus). Other Erie based organizations are offering help for those displaced by the disaster. “We have some Syrian refugees that are coming here since all that erupted in Syria,” said Senada Alihodzic, Field Office Director for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants – Erie, to Erie News Now.

Greg Baker, Mercyhurst vice president for Mission, encouraged the university in an email to keep those affected in their prayers. The email also listed two charities, Yeryuzu Cocuklari and Catholic Relief Services as sources for folks to donate. He encouraged the university with a quote from Catherine McAuley, “The poor need help today, not next week.” Another earthquake, this one 6.3 magnitude, struck the area on
Monday, Feb. 20.

If you are interesting in supporting relief efforts, your support will be appreciated.