Turkey earthquake: Family caught in disaster after attending funeral

A grieving family who flew from the UK for a funeral found themselves in the middle of a disaster after getting caught up in the Turkey earthquake.

Eylem Yildiz travelled to Besni for Wednesday’s ceremony from Swindon, Wiltshire, with three relatives after her father died on Tuesday, 31 January.

Daughter Busra Yildiz, from Cardiff, stayed to look after her sisters.

On Saturday, Welsh firefighters in Turkey pulled survivors from the rubble, five days after the disaster.

When two earthquakes struck on Monday, the apartment block where Busra’s mum, aunt, uncle and one-year-old were staying was reduced to rubble.

Busra’s boyfriend Sam Thomas said: “They were all grieving for their lost grandfather, then this happened.”

Eylem has yet to be found, while Busra’s grandmother, Saadet Onder, and three other family members from Turkey are also missing.

Her aunt Emine Onder-Nizan, uncle Engin and cousin Mete – who all travelled from the UK – have been found.

The death toll from the disaster has exceeded 24,000.

However rescuers, including firefighters from South Wales and Mid and West Wales fire services, are still finding survivors buried in the rubble – five days since the earthquake struck.

The carnage unfolded when a 7.8 magnitude quake struck near Gaziantep and was followed by multiple aftershocks.

One, almost as large as the first, measured 7.5 magnitude.

Busra, who was born in Besni and brought up in Swindon, travelled on Monday to Turkey to help.

Map showing the location of the two earthquakes in Turkey

The magnitude of the earthquake was classified as “major” on the official magnitude scale

Mr Thomas, from Bridgend, said: “On Tuesday there were signs of life, they think they heard their grandmother because there were noises coming from the building.

“They were able to speak to the aunt on Wednesday. Then everything went quiet.”

‘Complete carnage’

The 24-year-old said signs of life had been detected with heat-sensitive cameras.

A lack of machinery meant people were digging through rubble by hand. He called the situation “complete carnage”.

Mr Thomas, a web designer, said: “It’s just heartbreaking to know they can hear people in there.

“This week Busra has seen childhood friends and family being pulled out dead.

“She has seen dead children. I cannot imagine what she is feeling like.”

The UK’s Disasters Emergency Committee said £1.7m had been raised in Wales and £52.8m at UK level in just two days for Turkey and Syria.

Busra, 24, has been sleeping in a “fabricated pod”. Her boyfriend said: “She is so strong, I don’t know how she does it.”

He said: “I am praying they are all alive and hoping they will all come out.

‘Strong women’

“I really want my loved ones out of that building.

“I believe in my heart of hearts they are going to be found and they are going to be OK.

“They are all religious people and strong women. It is breaking my heart they are being put through this.”

Steve Davies

Welsh firefighters are part of a UK contingent of international rescuers in Turkey

Brazil and Switzerland have called for the UN Security Council to meet next week to discuss its response to the situation in Syria, which was also affected.

Mr Thomas said he was feeling “pretty horrendous” and he is being supported by friends and family.

“This has been the worst five days of my life, it feels like one big day,” he said.

“It’s not my blood family and I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my mum trapped there in a building.”

Phil Irving

Phil Irving: “When we are successful in making a difference… it gives the team a real boost”

Welsh firefighters are part of a UK contingent of international rescuers and they include Cardiff Central Station crew manager Emma Atcherley, firefighter Luke Davison from Malpas Station, and firefighter Robert Buckley from Ely Station.

Deployed from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service are Steve Davies, head of response southern division, and Haverfordwest Station watch manager Phil Irving.

They helped extract two people after managing to access a building to find a woman trapped on a stairwell, before later rescuing a man who was also brought out alive after having his legs trapped by debris.

Speaking from Hatay, in southern Turkey, Mr Irving explained how the rescue began on Friday afternoon and continued overnight, with the pair “entombed” in a building collapse.

“When we are successful in making a difference…it gives the team a real boost,” he said.

Baris Cakmak

Baris Cakmak paid tribute to people in north Wales for making donations to help aid efforts

Baris Cakmak, who owns a barber shop in Wrexham, had been in Istanbul when the earthquake struck.

He paid tribute to people in north Wales for making donations to help aid efforts.

He told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast that people had called him and dropped off clothes at his shop which he hoped to be able to deliver, along with food and money.

“Thank you so much,” he said.

Collapsed building in Antakya

Survivors have been found in collapsed buildings in Antakya by rescuers including Welsh firefighters

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