‘Everyone’s panicking’: Australia’s Turkish community fears for loved ones

Resul Bozoglu’s family in Turkey are scared to be indoors, but even after escaping to tents are worried aftershocks from the powerful earthquake that has devastated Turkey and Syria could bring buildings down on them.

From Sydney, there is little he can do to help except send money.

Bozoglu, who manages Bizim Market in Auburn, said most of his extended family lives an hour away from the epicentre and are sleeping outside their homes.

“Everyone’s panicking, they’re staying in a tent outside because they’re scared a tremor could happen,” he said. “There’s a general consensus they should wait a week before going back home.”

Bozoglu has four aunts and uncles, grandparents and many cousins in Talas, a town about four hours away from Gaziantep.

“They felt it very heavily there and they’re worried buildings will fall down on them,” he said.

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit on Monday night and was followed by a second 7.6 magnitude quake nine hours later.

The country has experienced many aftershocks and the death toll has passed 4000 as rescue efforts continue.

Sending funds to the family has been the only option for Bozoglu as he is based in Sydney.

“It’s quite disturbing … we can’t really do anything from here,” he said. “Every Turkish person is currently sending financial support.”

The World Health Organisation warned the death toll could end up surpassing 20,000 as more than 45 countries pledged to send experts and aid to help rescue efforts.

“The international community has been helpful as Red Cross is set up,” Bozoglu said.

An Australian woman woke on Tuesday to the news her cousin had died in the earthquake while his wife and children are still missing.

Nihal Iscel’s 63-year-old cousin lived in Gaziantep and said she stayed up all night waiting for news of her loved ones.

Nihal Iscel (right) with family in Turkey last year.

“Most of our family are safe and well in their cars. They can’t get into their houses because they are unsafe,” she said.

“We found out that two of our cousins were stuck under rubble after their building collapsed.

“One of them was pulled out and pronounced dead but we haven’t heard from the other one or their four children. Rescue crews are there now.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the Australian government would send $10 million in humanitarian aid to earthquake victims via agencies such as the Red Cross.

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