An Apocalyptic Earthquake devastated my people and country

Posted in Blog

Ibrahim Ozdemir,

As usual, I talked with some of my nephews yesterday late afternoon. They told me they were concerned
about my health and well-being when they learned of the severe cold on Friday and Saturday in MA. A
few hours later, I was informed that an earthquake had hit Turkey and my hometown.
On early Monday, the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook much of southern Turkey, my hometown
Islahiye (Gaziantep) included, killed nearly 4,000 people. The number is rising every hour. It could turn
out to be the largest the nation has seen. Buildings collapsed, natural gas pipelines burst into flames,
airports were destroyed, and highways split open.
I spend the night trying to reach my relatives and have information. My two nieces who just called me are
still under rubble with their children. What I have seen from the media and informed by my relatives
today makes it clear that this is by all accounts apocalyptic as described in Torah, New Testament, and
The Quran.
In freezing temperatures, underneath the rubble lay thousands of Turks and Kurds, citizens and Syrian
refugees, rich and poor, Alawites and Sunnis. Some died where they were, while others were patiently
waiting for rescue. There is a shortage of electricity, food, breed, and water.
The first earthquake was massive by any standard, followed by a second one of almost equal magnitude.
The collapse of buildings directly on the fault line was probably unavoidable. Yet across the region, many
structures stood firm, saving the lives of their occupants, while others next door crumpled — pointing to
sloppy construction practices as the leading cause of death. We will need time to fully understand the
extent to which human failings may have contributed to the loss of life. But early indications certainly
raise questions.
In 1999, we quickly learned that it wasn’t the earthquake but human-made concrete blocks that killed
people. The blame went to contractors who used cheap materials, officials who failed to enforce Turkey’s
relatively loose building codes, and, of course, a government that has been unable to develop a
nationwide earthquake response strategy.
Today is the day of mourning, support, solidarity. I am moved by unity and solidarity across the nation:
people lining up to donate blood and desperately trying to help one another. There are many international
help and donations also pouring in.
However, all my relatives and neighbors left their houses and living in their cars or in the parks like a
refugee. They need urgent care. Anyone wants to help and donate they can send through the following
Thank you,

Professor Ibrahim Ozdemir
Visiting Scholar, Clark University, Worcester, MA, USA


Donate to Türkiye Earthquake Relief Fund