After the Turkish city of Izmir was struck by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, NGOs and SAT-7 TÜRK have worked together to raise awareness of the needs and to show solidarity with the thousands who have been affected.
From 30 October when the earthquake occurred, SAT-7 TÜRK covered rescue operations through its news broadcasts, website and other programmes. The presenters of Power of Prayer and Homemade prayed for the victims, shared words of comfort from the Bible and encouraged viewers to support the work of charities on the ground.
The World View current affairs show spoke to an NGO director, relayed messages from senior church leaders and – in a country that is prone to earthquakes – addressed viewers’ fears and how to be prepared for future incidents.
“We are in contact with non-governmental organisations such as First Hope (Ilk Umut) which operates in emergency and disaster situations,” explained Melih Ekener, Executive Director of SAT-7 TÜRK. “We strive to do our best to support NGOs and try to do whatever we can.”
Refik Topcu, Vice President of First Hope, told SAT-7, “The situation is worse than what is shown on television or on social media. It isn’t just the physical damage to buildings and the deaths; there is also a lot of fear and worry.”
According to Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, 17 buildings collapsed or suffered damage, over 1,000 people were injured and 116 deaths have been confirmed. Under these circumstances, First Hope supported those who had lost homes or fled unsafe buildings with food aid, blankets and hygiene items. And for emergency workers and those forced to shelter in tents it deployed two hygiene vans that offer washing, shower and toilet facilities.
Speaking on 3 November, Topcu said, “We are witnessing miracles as people continue to be rescued from among the rubble.” One of the last survivors was Elif, a three-year-old girl who was rescued after being trapped under rubble for 65 hours. “When people are rescued, it brings the community together and it gives them strength,” Topcu said.
The earthquake was followed by over 1,400 aftershocks. Just minutes before the interview, Topcu said, the city had experienced a further shock at 4.1 magnitude.
“People are afraid to stay indoors; thousands of people are in the streets,” he said. “Fifty-six open spaces such as parks and stadiums across the city have been converted into temporary accommodation. So far, 4,000 tents have been raised, but more will probably be needed.”
With thousands of people sleeping outdoors, there is great concern as the nights grow colder during the winter months.
Speaking to World View, First Hope’s Director, Demokan Kileci, said government and municipal authorities were moving quickly to offer better shelter. In the meantime, there was a need for heaters and fuel. His deepest concern was for people with disabilities and the elderly.
“The greatest heroes here,” he said, “are the little children. Their hearts are so pure. Despite having lived through great fear, they are trying to keep going under very difficult circumstances. The Izmir folk, too, are really incredible. They are doing what they can,” he added.
Living with earthquakes
The last major earthquake to hit Turkey claimed 500 lives in the eastern city of Van in 2011, but also in people’s memory are two quakes in 1999 that killed 18,000 people in north-west Turkey. Historical records show that Istanbul itself has suffered powerful earthquakes at a rate of one around every 150 years.
With this in mind, World View encouraged viewers to have an emergency plan and an earthquake bag ready in case of disaster. Since other countries, from Japan to the USA, live with similar risks, it should be possible to live with the reality of earthquakes, co-presenter Volkan Er said. “But every building needs to have sound foundations and we need to face the fact that unsound structures need to be strengthened or even rebuilt.”
SAT-7 relayed the messages of comfort given by senior church leaders, including Armenian Apostolic Archbishop Sakah Masalyan. “We convey our deepest sorrow over the loss of life and pain experienced in the Izmir earthquake” he said. “Alongside all of Turkey, we raise our prayers to the Lord, that the destroyed buildings will be rebuilt, and the wounded will be embraced with His consolation and His grace.”
See how two SAT-7 programmes responded.
- Pray for people in Izmir living in fear and worry.
- Pray for the injured, for those who have lost homes, and for families who grieve for loved ones, that they may be comforted and receive spiritual strength and healing.
- Turkey is expecting another earthquake, especially in Istanbul. Pray that precautions will be taken so that future tragedies and loss of life will be prevented.