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Turkey earthquake: Man loses 10 family members in disaster

A man who lost 10 members of his family in the earthquake in Turkey has said he is afraid to answer his phone for fear of receiving more bad news.

Ali Tekce, a restaurant owner from Beverley in East Yorkshire, said six children were among the victims from his own wider family.

At least 35,000 people have died in the quake, which happened a week ago.

Mr Tekce said every time he saw a Turkish number on his phone he paused as he “didn’t want to lose more hope”.

On Sunday, Mr Tekce found out that his cousin’s family had died – a husband, wife, mother-in-law, father-in-law and six children.

He said his own parents, brother and sister were safe in his hometown of Sanliurfa but “psychologically they are not there, they live outside and in very cold conditions of -10C to -15C (14f to 5f)”.

“I’m scared to answer calls, I just don’t know what the call is going to be and who is gone, who didn’t survive, who didn’t make it,” he said.

A 7.8 magnitude quake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria on 6 February, followed by a 7.5 magnitude tremor.

Thousands of search and rescue teams, including coal miners and experts using thermal cameras and sniffer dogs, have been scouring the remains of collapsed buildings to find survivors since the earthquake.

‘Waiting for miracles’

Mr Tekce’s said his phone had started overheating and cutting out due to overuse as he tried to co-ordinate help from the UK.

One contact in Turkey called him to ask “not for food, not for warm clothes or tents, nothing but body bags”.

He said he now tries to only answer phone calls from people he may be able to help, as he fears otherwise he cannot keep going.

“If it’s a Turkish number calling me I try not to answer because I have a feeling that what is coming is more bad news,” he said.

“Time is over for us now. We are waiting for miracles.”

Source : BBC