Thursday , February 22 2024

Long journeys to search for missing family


ISTANBUL: As he waited for a delayed flight out of Istanbul Airport this week, Samet Yilmaz held up his phone, pointing to a photo of rubble. He said his brother, Ismail, was buried beneath it.

Samet lives in Bahrain, but has joined scores of people making the journey to southern Turkey in the wake of a huge earthquake that has killed thousands.

Like others, he believes that he is more likely to find his missing brother if he sifts through the rubble himself.

Ismail, a 26-year-old supermarket cashier, had been staying with relatives in Hatay province on the Syrian border at the time of the earthquake.

Others, including his brother-in-law, were pulled from the remains of the building later that day, but Ismail has not been found, Samet said.

“I’m missing him so much. I have come from Bahrain to Turkey to search for him. He’s my one and only brother,” he told media.

Samet described Ismail as intelligent and “shy with girls”. He said he was desperate for good news, but felt there was “no help” with the search.

After arriving in Turkey, Samet waited for hours in Istanbul for a flight to take him to Adana in the south of the country, before beginning the hours-long drive to Hatay province.

“It’s so cold here. Life is difficult,” he said by WhatsApp message late on Tuesday night after arriving in the province, which has been devastated by the earthquake.

With nowhere to stay, he warmed himself by a fire through the night, as he waited for daylight so he could begin the search for Ismail.

Samet is not alone. The BBC has spoken to people from across Turkey and abroad who have been travelling down to areas hit by the earthquake to search for missing loved ones.

In the city of Antakya, men armed with pickaxes and crowbars sifted through the rubble of a fallen building on Tuesday, looking for survivors. They told the BBC they were family members of the building’s residents and had come from Istanbul to search for their relatives.

Medical student Aylin Pulat could not get hold of several members of her family, including her parents, after the earthquake struck.

She is based in Mugla, more than 1,000km (620 miles) from her family home in Adiyaman. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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