I lost seven relatives in the earthquake in Turkey

As the death toll mounts following two massive earthquakes in southern Turkey and northern Syria, many in Scotland are watching in horror.

A rescue operation is underway after Monday’s earthquakes, but aid agencies are warning of a growing humanitarian emergency in the region.

Meanwhile, Turks and Syrians living in Scotland are struggling to get in touch with relatives affected by the disaster.

Teyfik Kamber, chef at Turkish restaurant Eda in Glasgow, says he has lost seven family members in the Turkish city of Elbistan.

He has been unable to contact around 20 friends and family in the region and fears the worst.

“It’s been really difficult talking to people,” the 60-year-old told BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime programme.

“It was very difficult. There is nothing you can say. The feeling is very, very sad and very hard. Many villages are waiting for the roads to open because there is a lot of snow.

“Yesterday we got some messages from family members and then today we can’t hear anything from them anymore.”

Tekin Esmer, a cafe owner in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, already knows that his second cousins’ young children have died after their house in Iskenderun collapsed in earthquakes.

The 47-year-old is still waiting to hear if several uncles and aunts survived in the port city.

Tekin, who moved to Scotland 20 years ago, has kept in touch with his two brothers and their families.

She said: ‘My brothers and their families are now on the streets – their homes are too damaged to go back.

“Last night one of my brothers only had two blankets to keep seven warm. They have nothing and their houses are being torn down because they are not safe. It is cold there and it is terrifying.

“I know my second cousins ​​are under a building – their children were brought out dead and I’m awaiting further news. I can only assume they are dead as well.”


Tekin Emer also lost relatives in the earthquake

Tekin, who runs Waffles and Brew, admits he feels helpless being so far out of crisis, but hopes to do what he can from his cafe in Galashiels.

He added: “If I went what can I do?

“I feel worthless being here, but if I can help even a little bit I’ll be happy – my clients put money in a donation box on my counter, and I put my money from my takings and put it in the fund like WELL.

“Once settled, I’ll try to collect clothes and blankets as well.”

Mahmut Tas (Akdeniz supermarket Edinburgh)

Mahmut Tas is unable to get in touch with his wife’s family in Kahramanmaras, Turkey

Mahmut Tas, who works in Edinburgh’s Akdeniz supermarket, said he was concerned for his wife’s sister, her husband and their children.

He said they could not get in touch with them or anyone else in Kahramanmaras in southern Turkey where they live.

“I’ve been watching TV for two days, my wife is crying to go home. It’s very bad. So many people are affected by it,” he said.

Kafar Karahan

Kafar Karahan

Cafar Karaharn, who works at Turkish Kitchen in Aberdeen, said he has relatives and friends throughout the earthquake-stricken region but has been unable to get in touch with them.

“It’s very scary and heartbreaking and upsetting,” she said.

He expressed concern about sub-zero temperatures in the region, where many survivors are unable to return to their homes.

He said he hadn’t slept since he saw the first images of the devastation caused by the earthquake on television.

“To sit and cry and let the tears fall…it’s not nice to see people die in front of our eyes,” she said.


The search for survivors continues in Aleppo, Syria

Nadin Atkin, a Syrian who works at the University of Edinburgh, told BBC Scotland she arrived in Aleppo for a family visit 20 minutes after Monday morning’s earthquake.

“When I got home the floor was swaying and shaking like jelly, so many people were on the street in pajamas, house clothes, slippers with no jackets or warm clothes.

“We haven’t been able to sleep or eat for the last couple of days. We are in volatile and unpredictable circumstances where we never know what’s going to happen next. I have my bag with my passport, money… ready for any moment we have to Leave.”

Ms Atkin, who moved to Scotland from Syria in 2008, said people were left homeless and without food.

“Hundreds of buildings were destroyed over the heads of its residents. So many houses have become great tombs,” he said.

“The international community and all those who wish to send aid to the affected region must direct a fair share of that aid to the forgotten region.

“Aid must enter by air and land in northwestern Syria as soon as possible. The opportunity is lost for those trapped under the rubble and for those who spent the last night out in the cold and snow.”

UK firefighters, including some from Scotland, are heading to Turkey to help with the rescue.

Meanwhile a Scottish-Turkish charity has set up collection points in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and St Andrews to collect donations for earthquake victims.

The Association of Turkish Alumni and Students in Scotland (ATAS) organized a plane to transport food, clothing and blankets to Turkey on Friday.

He said all kinds of donations were needed, but funding was the most important.

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