I have lost seven relatives in the earthquake in Turkey

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

A rescue operation is underway following 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 their relatives caught up in the disaster.

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

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

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

“It has been very difficult. There’s nothing you can say. The feeling is very, very sad and very hard. So many towns waiting for the roads to open because there is a lot of snow.

“Yesterday we received some messages from family members and today we can no longer hear anything from them.”

Tekin Esmer, a cafe owner in Galashiels, in the Scottish borders, already knows that the young children of his second cousins ​​died after their house in Iskenderun collapsed during the earthquakes.

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

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

He said: “My brothers and their families are now on the streets; their houses are too damaged to go back inside.

“Last night one of my brothers had only two blankets to keep seven of them warm. They have nothing and their houses are being demolished because they are not safe. It’s cold there and it’s scary.

“I know my second cousins ​​are under a building – their children have been pulled out dead and I’m waiting for more news. I can only assume they are dead too.”


Tekin Emer has also lost family members in the earthquake

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

He added: “If I went there, what can I do?

“I feel worthless being here, but if I can help even a little bit, I’ll be glad: my customers are putting money in a donation box on my counter, and I’m putting money from my income and putting it in the fund as a Well.

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

Mahmut Tas (Akdeniz Supermarket Edinburgh)

Mahmut Tas is unable to contact his wife’s family in Kahramanmaras, Turkey

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

He said they could not be contacted or anyone else in Kahramanmaras in southern Turkey, where they live.

“I have been watching television for two days, my wife cries at home. It is very bad. A lot of people are affected,” she said.

Kafar Karahan

Kafar Karahan

Cafar Karaharn, who works at Turkish Kitchen in Aberdeen, said he has family and friends throughout the quake-hit region but has been unable to contact them.

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

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

He said he had not slept since he first saw images of the devastation caused by the earthquake on television.

“Sitting and crying and shedding tears…it’s not nice to see people die in front of our eyes,” he said.


Search for survivors continues in Aleppo, Syria

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

“When I got home the floor waved and trembled like jelly, so many people were on the street in pajamas, home clothes, slippers, without jackets or warm clothes.

“We couldn’t sleep or eat for the last two days. We are in unstable and unexpected circumstances where we never know what is going to happen next, I have my bag with our passport, money…ready for any time we have to leave.”

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

“Hundreds of buildings have been destroyed over the heads of their residents. Many houses have been turned into huge graves,” he said.

“The international community and all who wish to send aid to the affected region must allocate 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 night outside in the cold and snow.”

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

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) has organized a plane to transport food, clothes and blankets to Turkey on Friday.

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

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