20 February 2023

British Turkish Association ‘devastated’ by new earthquake and vows to help

20 February 2023

Organisations on the ground have vowed to help after another earthquake hit Turkey and Syria two weeks after a disaster that killed around 45,000 people.

A spokesperson for the British Turkish Association (BTA) said “life will never be the same again” after confirmation that a 6.4 magnitude earthquake had torn through Turkey’s Hatay province, centred in the town of Defne, and killed at least three people on Monday.

Turkan Akbas, 40, is a solicitor from Hackney, Greater London, and a spokesperson for the British Turkish Association, based in Luton.

Ms Akbas said she lost relatives, including her cousin and her cousin’s five-year-old triplets, in the earthquake on February 6.

“(I am) devastated,” she told the PA news agency after Monday’s earthquake.

“(I am) just worried about everyone back home.

“Life will never be the same again… (I have) lost too many loved ones, and sad to see Turkey in the state it is currently in, but we will overcome this with the support of the whole world who have come together to support us.”

Ms Akbas said the BTA will continue to send aid including tents, blankets, baby food and hygiene supplies and is raising money to buy container houses for people who have lost their homes.

“The 6.4 earthquake today followed by 5.8 magnitude aftershock has caused further buildings to collapse and three deaths and 213 injuries are confirmed at this time, which are expected to rise,” she said.

“The earthquake has been felt in other parts of the countries but has mainly impacted Hatay.

People are very frightened and are leaving the buildings, fearing the worst

“The BTA charity Save1Life has sent a search, rescue and medical team together with medical supplies to Turkey to assist AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Authority) on the ground.

“They have returned to the UK after one week of deployment.

“The BTA are now trying to raise funds to purchase container houses to those who have lost their homes and are living in dire weather conditions in the regions affected by the earthquake.”

Tom Colley, a member of HelpAge International’s humanitarian response team who is in Gaziantep, described the scene as “very distressing”.

Mr Colley was in a meeting when the earthquake struck and was advised to stay in the hotel.

“People are very frightened and are leaving the buildings, fearing the worst,” he said.

“Many are still in precarious circumstances after the earthquake a fortnight ago.

“This is very distressing.”

HelpAge International is the secretariat to a global network of organisations promoting the right of all older people to lead dignified, healthy and secure lives.

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