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‘It has all turned to nothing’

By Lara Hassan Feb 10, 2023
Three women crying over devastation causedPeople have been left distraught after their homes were destroyed. Credit:ABIR SULTAN/Shutterstock

KU students are devestated as their homes are destroyed by earthquakes in Syria and Turkey.

Kingston students with family in the region hit by powerful earthquakes on Monday are desperate for news from home.

Two powerful earthquakes hit southern Turkey and northwest Syria, killing thousands of people and destroying whole neighbourhoods.

The shock stretched through Turkey and Syria to the bordering countries. Credit: Google Maps

Tala Sultan, a Syrian student at Kingston University first heard of the disaster through social media.

She went on to learn her family home in Hama, Syria had been destroyed.

“My family woke at four in the morning, the whole house was already shaking, the ceilings were cracked and the doors destroyed.

“All they could hear were screams outside calling for people to leave their houses,” she said.

“They rushed out barefoot, still dressed in their pjs, and had to watch their home get demolished.”

Sultan heard of her family’s horror over the phone as they told her what had happened.

They had been left stranded and covered in blood and burns.

The earthquakes had a magnitude of up to 7.8 and are among the most devastating of the last 10 years.

“Seeing the aftermath left me speechless,” Sultan said.

“I had flashbacks of being at home, playing on my grandmother’s roof with my cousins, and having sleepovers in her house. Now it has all turned to nothing.”

Relatives of victims visit collapsed building to search for survivors
Relatives of victims have had to wait by collapsed buildings, hoping to find their family underneath. Credit: NECATI SAVAS/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

People have worked tirelessly to find those trapped under rubble fighting to survive against the crushing weight of buildings and the freezing cold.

Organisations such as Islamic Relief and The Red Cross have been raising money to aid the victims of the earthquake.

Getting relief to northwest Syria is a challenge.

Much of the area has been destroyed by war, sanctions are in place and there is only a small crossing available across the border from Turkey.

Aya Alghadanfari, a Masters student at KU, has family in Gaziantep, Turkey, the epicentre of the first shock.

Her sister’s home was destroyed and is now inhabitable.

“She said the shakes kept coming every 30 minutes, at first all the buildings didn’t fall, but eventually they did.”

Alghadanfari said: “We had to send them a taxi to take them to safety in Iraq.

“She had no food, water or electricity for two days and our contact was limited.”

The area in southern Turkey most affected by the quakes is home to millions of Syrian refugees and a large Kurdish minority.

Poor infrastructure and lack of quake-resistant housing have added to the damage caused by the earthquake.

Rescuers try to break through the rubble to find survivors
People have had to find ways to break through the rubble in an attempt to find survivors. Credit: YAHYA NEMAH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Kurdish student Sevtap Kilic described the guilt she felt knowing how helpless those suffering are.

“I have never thought that having a shelter and food in England would pain me so much to use.”

Kilic has been working with the Turkish and Kurdish communities in north London where she lives, collecting donations that can be sent back home.

In Kingston, the Kingston Muslim Youth organisation has launched an emergency disaster appeal aiming to raise £10,000 for those impacted.

In a statement they said: “Kingston Muslim Youth are working with the One Ummah team tirelessly on the ground to save as many lives as possible.”

By Lara Hassan

Editor/Reporter Interests: Foreign correspondence, Middle Eastern matters, politics, fashion and sport.

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