First shipment of aid for victims of the Turkish and Syrian earthquake leaves Ireland

Medical provisions, baby foods and clothing to be sent, with €3,000 raised in first hour of appeal

The first shipment of aid from Ireland for the victims of the Turkish and Syrian earthquake has left Dublin.

Dozens of members of the public have contributed non-perishable items to the Turkish Embassy in Dublin which is co-ordinating aid from Ireland.

Clothes, blankets and nappies are among the items donated by the Irish public which have been sent on a Turkish Airlines flight to the earthquake area.

The embassy tweeted: “With the contributions of our citizens and Irish friends, we delivered the first part of the aid material collected at our embassy to Turkish Airlines to be delivered to earthquake victims.


“We are very grateful for the increasing interest shown in the in-kind aid campaign organized by the embassy. We would like to thank our citizens and Irish friends for their kind help in light of our previous posts.”

Among the items the embassy have requested are winter clothes, blankets, tents and mattresses for tens, baby food, nappies and sanitary pads.

Meanwhile, members of the Turkish community in Cork are gathering aid to help all those impacted by Monday’s earthquake which left more than 11,000 people dead in Turkey and Syria and more than 300,000 displaced.

The first earthquake was measured at 7.8 on the Richter scale and was followed by a series of aftershocks including one measuring 7.5.

Tuna Ozgon is from Istanbul and his sister, Suna, is married to Emre Yalvac, whose parents were caught up in the horror when the earthquake struck the city of Malatya.

Speaking to his sister in Istanbul prompted him to begin raising support among the Turkish community living in Cork, and in the first hour of making the appeal they raised €3,000.

“Emre’s parents, Ahmet and Keziban, live in Malatya which is a city of 500,000, and it was badly damaged – their house wasn’t completely destroyed in the earthquakes, but they have not been able to return because they are terrified of aftershocks, so they have been sleeping in their car.”

Mr Ozgon and his wife, Melahat, bought items such as simple medical provisions, baby foods and clothing for children which they are in the process of sending to the Turkish embassy in Dublin for transportation to Turkey and distribution to those in the affected areas.

Fellow Turk Erdal Zor lives in Carrigaline and works with a multinational company in Cork. He set about fundraising with fellow Turks working for the company, which has offered to match what they raise.

“I am from Istanbul so fortunately my family are fine and most of my relatives and networks are in Istanbul, but the devastation has been huge so we set up raising money among ourselves at my work and we will donate to a central charity; the Ahbap Foundation is trusted and reliable.”

Hasan Kilic of Karizma Turkish Barbers on Oliver Plunkett Street comes from the city of Tunceli in eastern Turkey.

“I heard about the earthquake when a friend rang me about 7am so I rang my parents, Mehmet and Fatima, and my brother, Serdar, straight away and I got through no problem, and they told me that even though the earthquake was 400 kilometres away, they still felt their whole house shaking.

“We had earthquakes in Tunceli when I was a child but looking at the TV, they were nothing like this – I was in shock looking at the news. The first earthquake damaged the buildings and the second one destroyed them and now everything is flat and so many people are dead or missing.”

Restaurateur Evren Ertugrul, who owns Nosta on Marlborough Street, is from Marmaris on the Turkish south coast.

“Last year when I was back visiting my mother, there was an earthquake – it was only 3.8 but it is a horrible experience and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”.

His sister, Museref, lives in Mersin, 200 kilometres from the earthquake zone.

“I was talking to my nephew, Gunduz, and he told me that they were awoken with a big bang, and he was never that frightened in his life before. There were no casualties in Mersin but he said they could not go back indoors so they stayed out all night on the street because of aftershocks.

“What can happen in the east of Turkey is that the temperatures can go down to minus-30 degrees with a couple of metres of snow – thousands were killed and trapped in the rubble of the earthquake but now they are dying from the freezing temperatures.

“And of course the roads are in a terrible condition – one of my friends was telling me that there are cracks in the road that are two and three metres wide which is hampering rescue efforts. And the scale of it is so big – if it was one city, you might have some hope, but 11 cities have been hit.”

Mr Ertugrul made appearances on both of Cork’s local independent radio stations, 96FM and Red FM, to appeal for aid, prompting a deluge of offers of assistance.

He is directing all cash donations to either the Turkish Red Cross or the Ahbap Foundation, but anyone wishing to donate unused winter clothing such as jackets, jumpers, gloves, hats and thermal wear as well as baby clothing and baby products can drop them off at Nosta restaurant.

“We have a van organised to take the donations to the Turkish embassy, who will arrange to ship them back to Turkey with Turkish Airlines, but people are starting to donate big quantities, so we are looking for people with logistics experience to help us because people in Cork are very generous.”

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times