Family survive earthquake in Turkey although scores of friends are missing

EMOTIONAL TOLL Zorba’s Onur Sahin shows pictures of his lost loved ones

RESTAURANT Director, Onur Sahin, told of his relief when he found out his family was ‘fine’ after the Earthquake in Turkey hit his southeastern hometown of Mersin.

However, relief was tempered after Mr Sahin learned that as many as 100 friends had died in the disaster.

The director of Turkish restaurant Zorba, on Upper Grosvenor Road, told the Times: “Thank god my relatives are fine but I lost some friends, my mother and brother lost some friends too.

“I lost as many as 100 friends, but I can’t count them all, there are so many, and some of them are still in the rubble.

“I grew up in Mersin which is only one hour away from centre of the earthquake and it was affected.

“My friend, his wife and four kids are gone, they were all in a flat on the twelfth floor and my friend from primary school and his five-year-old daughter have both died.

“I have a family, my son is 11 months old, and all I think is it could happen to anyone.”

Mr Sahin explained how the disaster had destroyed 10,000 buildings leaving thousands of people homeless and living in poor conditions.

He said: “The earthquake hit 10 big cities and villages in turkey and has affected more than 10,000 buildings. Now lots of people are homeless, I know people who are living in a tent with 10 people in it.

“It is so cold outside they shouldn’t be in tents; they should be in containers. They don’t have toilets, they don’t have a shower, they have food and water, but the other conditions are very bad.”

To help those affected by the earthquake, Mr Sahin will be holding a fundraising dinner on Monday (February 20) at Zorba restaurant, where all the profits taken on the day will be used to buy container homes. (See breakout for more on the fundraiser)

“Now we need to protect the people who have survived the earthquake, I lost friends and people lost relatives but now our priority is to help these people, save their lives, give them hot food and warm homes, whatever we need to do,” he said.

“We have already sent some help with some clothes, I have personally donated £1000 and we are collecting money via the rotary club in a collection box.”

Mr Sahin hopes that the money raised will help provide emergency aid and buy shelters, blankets and food for those who have survived.

So far 35,000 people have died following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake which hit the central and southern regions of Turkey and the northern border of Syria last week (February 6).

After 10 days, the UN has said the search and rescue phase is ‘coming to a close’.

It has also warned that the final death toll from the earthquakes could be at least double.

However, there are some miracles as people are being found alive under the rubble over a week later.

Turkey’s and Syria’s rescue teams as well as charities like the Turkish Red Crescent will be moving towards caring for survivors as more than 80,000 people are injured and thousands more are displaced across the two countries.

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