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‘It is a miracle’: How all 17 siblings of Turkish expat dwelling in Spain survived horror earthquake


Turkish expat Refik Agri waited in quiet dread for 5 hours as he acquired nothing however radio silence from his household after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake ripped by way of his house nation. 

Agri, who now calls Torremolinos house on the coast of Malaga, watched helplessly as movies shortly emerged on social media from survivors of the primary quake displaying the utter devastation.

“I watched my hometown being decimated building-by-building,” he instructed the Olive Press

Agri is one among 18 siblings, they usually all stay in Iskenderun and Antakya, within the Hatay province of Turkey, near the Syrian border and simply 200km from the epicentre.

Earthquake In Kahramanmaras, Turkey 14 Feb 2023
Cities turned to rubble after a serious earthquakes in Turkey-Syria. Picture: Cordon Press: Tunahan Turhan / SOPA Photographs/Sipa USA

Lastly a textual content got here by way of from his niece: ‘Uncle, I don’t understand how however all your brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews – we’re all alive, don’t fear’.

Agri stated that in complete his quick household are about 500 individuals, and miraculously not a single one among them is among the many 41,000 individuals confirmed useless, as of February 15. 

“After I acquired that message it was like when water is launched from a dam and I simply began crying uncontrollably,” Agri stated. 

“We’re 18 siblings and I do not know what number of nieces and nephews and nice nieces and nephews I’ve.

“We’re most likely 500 individuals in simply my quick household and we don’t have a single dying – is {that a} miracle or what.”

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Turkish expat Refik Agri is one among 18 youngsters and now calls Torremolinos house.

Equally exceptional was the survival of Agri’s niece Serap Sert and her household. 

The 38-year-old, together with her husband Murat and two youngsters Emre, 21, and Sila, 18, fled barefoot into the freezing chilly simply as their total house constructing collapsed on February 6. 

Contained in the complicated have been eight ranges and 32 residences – the Sert household are the one individuals from that constructing alive right now. 

“I discuss to her and she or he tells me ‘uncle, I don’t understand how we acquired out, I don’t understand how we’re alive’,” Agri stated. 

The retired monetary advisor additionally described one among his nephews because the ‘luckiest man alive’.

“He grabbed his household and led them to the door when he realised his five-year-old daughter was not with them,” Agri stated. 

“So he stops all of them and says ‘both all of us are going to die or all of us are going to stay’.”

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Refik visited his nieces Serap Sert (centre) and Gulsah Agri (proper) final summer season.

Agri’s nephew went off into the darkness in quest of his daughter, discovered her and introduced her again to the door when the staircase they have been about to make use of to flee collapsed off the facet of the constructing.

“Had they continued, my nephew, his spouse and three youngsters would all be useless – that five-year-old saved all of their lives,” Agri stated. 

The household ultimately climbed out to security. 

Agri left Iskenderun when he was 18 to review at college in Bursa, in northwestern Turkey.

He then lived in the USA for 30 years the place he labored as a monetary advisor earlier than retiring and transferring to Torremolinos in 2021. 

Agri tries to remain in contact along with his family members on daily basis, however poor reception within the catastrophe zone makes it extraordinarily tough.

Greater than per week for the reason that lethal earthquake struck he stated his members of the family are nonetheless reporting aftershocks.

“There are literally thousands of mounds of rubble that haven’t even been checked but for survivors,” Agri stated. 

“You’ll be able to’t stroll previous loads of them as a result of the odor of useless our bodies is so dangerous, after which at others you’ll be able to hear noises and screams however everybody is simply too busy making an attempt to save lots of their very own household.” 

Heroic tales of individuals pulling members of the family, pals and strangers from beneath rubble have captured hearts throughout the globe. Picture: Cordon press: Carol Guzy/ZUMA Press Wire

Many individuals left homeless, together with Agri’s niece Serap, live in tents on the streets.

These whose homes didn’t collapse should not even sleeping inside out of concern their buildings will tumble, he added. 

However regardless of the dying, destruction and the entire tears Agri has shed the previous week he stated witnessing how his compatriots have been serving to each other gave him hope Turkey would get well.

Heroic movies and tales of individuals pulling members of the family, pals and strangers from beneath mounds of rubble have captured hearts throughout the globe. 

Zuma Contract Photographer
The feelings have taken a toll for individuals working to rescue survivors. Picture: Cordon Press: Svet Jacqueline/ZUMA Press Wire

Many nations, together with Spain, have despatched groups of volunteers to affix the efforts to rescue individuals. 

“The division within the nation proper now’s so horrific and so deep, however this has prompted individuals to get up and realise their actual tradition and actual humanity,” Agri stated.

“Spain is my house now and I can’t see myself ever leaving, however that doesn’t imply I received’t ever cease loving my beloved Turkey and they’re going to get by way of this.”





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