Istanbul Center in Jacksonville working to connect loved ones, raise funds for Turkey & Syria

Earthquake blamed for deaths of 4,000+ people

Rescuers in Turkey and war-ravaged Syria searched through the frigid night into Tuesday, hoping to pull more survivors from the rubble after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed more than 4,000 people and toppled thousands of buildings across a wide region.

Authorities feared the death toll from Monday’s pre-dawn earthquake and aftershocks would keep climbing as rescuers looked for survivors among tangles of metal and concrete spread across the region beset by Syria’s 12-year civil war and refugee crisis.

Survivors cried out for help from within mountains of debris as first responders contended with rain and snow. Seismic activity continued to rattle the region, including another jolt nearly as powerful as the initial quake. Workers carefully pulled away slabs of concrete and reached for bodies as desperate families waited for news of loved ones.

The Istanbul Center of Jacksonville met Monday night to discuss ways of helping people in Turkey who are now displaced. Some living locally say they’re running into problems reaching friends and family overseas.

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“There is actually a specific city called Hatay. We still don’t have any contact right now. There is no internet. No cell reception and no water,” said Burak Celebi.

Samet Kul, who we also spoke with at the Istanbul Center of Jacksonville, said he was able to get through to a friend — but that person’s situation is dire.

“I was able to contact my friend who actually lives at the epicenter of the quake through Facebook messaging,” Kul said. “He said his family is OK, but he is now living in his car in the street right now.”

The Istanbul Center is one of many Turkish organizations around the U.S. that are actively acting as a network to connect Turkish people here in the U.S. with loved ones in Turkey.

It has posted a link to its Facebook page for anyone who can donate what they can to help the people of Turkey.

According to Turkish government officials as of Monday night, more than 6,700 people from other parts of Turkey were dispatched to the disaster area. This includes police officers, firefighters, medical personnel, and volunteer search and rescue crews.

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