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'A lot of devastation': Edmonton's Turkish community reacts to deadly earthquake


Edmontonians with family and friends in Turkiye and Syria are trying to connect with loved ones after two earthquakes struck the region on Monday.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the first quake measured 7.8, with a depth of 18 kilometres. Hours later, a 7.5-magnitude temblor struck more than 100 kilometres away from the first.

At least 3,400 people were dead as of Monday afternoon, and thousands of buildings collapsed, leaving survivors homeless.

The country is situated on major fault lines, and is frequently hit by earthquakes.

About 18,000 people were killed by a similarly powerful earthquake in northwest Turkiye in 1999.

"The reason why this is so bad is because it’s a 7 or a 7.8 that happened 4:30 in the morning, and six hours later when people were trying to dig through the rubble, a second one, 7.5, hit in addition to the aftershocks," Sim Senol of the Turkish Canadian Society told CTV News Edmonton. "There were more than 120 aftershocks already between the two, so it’s scary, very scary."

Senol says bitter winter temperatures in the region have shortened the rescue window.

"There’s that small possibility that you can pull people out of the rubble within three days, somehow they survive. But hypothermia right now, it’s already nighttime, so they’re saying six hours, that’s all they have. So then the family members of course, they’re trying to dig through the rubble with their bare hands."

She worries because the devastation is so widespread, there won't be enough resources to rescue the survivors.

"Ten cities are impacted, and so much devastation across so many, such a wide geography, they’re not going to have enough relief workers, rescuers, handling all this, all at the same time."

Muhammet Cetin (left) at his business Cappadocia Import Turkish Bazaar in Edmonton.

At Cappadocia Import Turkish Bazaar, it's been an emotional day for Muhammet Cetin and his staff as they try to contact family members back home.

"Some of them, they are in the same area. We cannot connect. We cannot call them. We try to call and no answer. I don't know what's going on," Cetin said.

"I have an employee here, her aunt passed away from the earthquake. I have a couple of friends their sister and father passed away. I spoke with them this morning."

He hopes to partner with other members of the Turkish community to send aid to the country.

"Maybe we can do together something like for donate some money and send them. Even though there is government helping the people, but still. Anything, even one penny help them."

Senol says her group will also start collecting cash donations this Friday at their mosque at 15450 105 Avenue.

"This Friday there will definitely be a fundraising campaign. Now we are asking for Edmonton, cash donations are the best. Unfortunately at this point, supplies, sending those off to Turkiye is a bigger logistical problem in these situations."

She anticipates there will be more fundraising efforts in the weeks to come.

"This is not going to be done in one day, this is a lot of devastation. We’ll have to keep it up for a long time."

The Canadian Red Cross established a link Monday to collect money for relief efforts.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nahreman Issa. Top Stories

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