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'Still many people in the rubble': Victoria man worries for family after devastating Turkiye earthquakes

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A Victoria man says a series of devastating earthquakes in Turkiye and Syria have left him feeling nearly paralyzed, as the death toll from the quakes rises above 6,200 people.

In a span of 10 hours, Turkiye saw more than 30 earthquakes, according to Victoria man Kemal Evci, most of them around magnitude-6.0

The first earthquake occurred Monday and registered at magnitude 7.8. Around nine hours later, a second large quake measured magnitude 7.5.

Evci says his family members, who live in a town about two hours away from the initial earthquake's epicenter, are safe.

However, roads across the country have been severely damaged, and the only way to get in and out of his hometown is by air.

"At first I received a text message that said, 'We are fine,'" Evci told CTV News on Tuesday.

"I was so worried, even before asking them I just Googled what's happening in Turkiye and in my hometown," he said.

Even though his immediate family is uninjured, he says he's concerned about their access to food and shelter. He notes that temperatures are frigid and that the region has seen snowfall leading up to the quakes.

"Eighty per cent of the buildings in the city centre of my hometown are gone," said Evci.

"There are still many people in the rubble," he added.

He says he reached out to other friends and family members in the hours following the earthquakes.

"One of my friends was actually in the rubble when he was texting me," he said. The friend was able to escape the wreckage of the earthquake, as was Evci's aunt, who also managed to crawl out of a collapsed building.

"Even my aunt who got out of the rubble, she had issues with her back getting out, and she couldn't get [medical] help because people were dying in hospitals," he said.

Victoria man Kemal Evci, whose friends and family were caught in the earthquakes in Turkiye, is shown. (CTV News)

EMERGENCY SERVICES

Evci notes that many hospitals were damaged in the earthquake, as were some airports and roads, making it difficult for emergency supplies and personnel to travel across the country.

Internet and cell service is also spotty following the natural disaster.

Between a lack of emergency services, a lack of shelter, limited food and water, and chilly weather, Evci says many people in Turkiye are "just trying to survive."

Anyone interested in donating money to support earthquake relief efforts can do so at a charity organization called AHBAP, which Evci says is reputable.

'WAKE UP CALL'

Evci, who has been living in Canada for more than three years, says the devastating earthquakes should be a "wake up call" for British Columbians, especially those who live on the coast along the Cascadia subduction zone.

He says B.C.'s health-care system would not be able to cope with a natural disaster on the scale that Turkiye has just seen.

Individuals should also have preperations for if a natural disaster strikes, like having food and water available, Evci recommends.

"If this started on the other side of the world, I'm sure it's going to happen in other places too," he said.

Evci says he's unsure what the next steps are for his family in Turkiye, both in the short term and in the long term.

"Psychologically, I'm not sure how they're going to recover," he said. "I felt an earthquake once, it was a 6.1, and it took months for me to recover and feel safe at home."

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