A man sits at his destroyed house in Kahramanmaras, southern Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. With the hope of finding survivors fading, stretched rescue teams in Turkey and Syria searched Wednesday for signs of life in the rubble of thousands of buildings toppled by a catastrophic earthquake.
(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
As freezing temperatures hinder rescue efforts in Turkey and Syria, people in London, Ont., are working on getting donations to those in need.
Multiple businesses in London are accepting donations of needed items Thursday and Friday morning to be sent to Turkey in the following days. The sought items include diapers, baby food, menstrual pads and non-pork canned food.
Both Empire Auto car dealership locations on Dundas Street and Springbank Drive will be accepting donations until Thursday evening, while the Maison Istanbul restaurant on Richmond Street is accepting donations until Friday at 11 a.m.
The donated items will then be delivered to the Turkish consulate in Toronto before a Turkish Airlines flight transports them to affected areas.
Banu Jacklin, a Londoner with family in Turkey, says the items are desperately needed as people struggle.
“These are really vital at the moment,” said Jacklin, a member of the local Turkish group organizing the donations.
Other items welcomed are new blankets, scarves, gloves, toques, winter jackets and flashlights. Jacklin says while gently used items were at first thought to be okay, Turkish Airlines is only accepting new items to help prevent the spread of diseases.
The death toll from the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria early Monday has continued to rise. As of Wednesday afternoon, over 11,000 people are believed to have died from the 7.8 magnitude quake.
Jacklin was actually in Turkey in 1999 when the last major earthquake hit the country. The 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey on Aug. 17, 1999, resulted in over 17,000 deaths and nearly 50,000 injured.
“The destruction then was unbelievable, but now it is worse,” Jacklin says.
While Jacklin says her immediate family in Turkey — her mother and grandmother — are safe and their home is intact, the recent earthquake is rekindling bad memories.
“It’s hard because while we may not be directly affected, but whoever experienced the 1999 earthquake… it brings old memories,” said Jacklin, adding she and others sought mental health counselling following the 1999 quake.
“I remember… one city we went to help and the smell because of the dead bodies, you couldn’t stay there,” added Jacklin.
“All those memories have come back worse and bigger and scarier.”
While immediate family is safe, Jacklin says a close family friend’s brother and his family are unaccounted for as of Wednesday, as there were reports of them being trapped under a collapsed building.
“It’s really hard for us to watch on T.V., what is going on there right now,” said Jacklin. “We all are emotional here in London with whoever I contacted from our community.”
The emotional toll the earthquake has on those with family where the destruction occurred will be a weeks and months-long ordeal, says Jacklin.
“What happens is you call your parents, your close friends and family and try to confirm if they are okay,” Jacklin says. “But then, there are your other co-workers, your second-generation cousins, you don’t think of them right away just because of everything that is going on.
“But for weeks later, it trickles out that someone you know died.”
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