Ottawa woman struggles to contact elderly mother trapped in Turkiye following earthquake

A devastating earthquake in Türkiye has left many in Ottawa’s Turkish community worried about the safety of their loved ones back home.

Nurben Bagceli has been trying to reach her elderly mother, who is trapped in her apartment in Türkiye.

“She’s alone, she’s 79 years old, and she’s not a very mobile person,” says Bagceli. “There is no electricity, there is no gas.”

Many of her family members cannot be reached by phone, leaving Bagceli worried about her mother’s situation.

“I don’t know her current situation right now. Is she scared? She has any needs? Anything collapse or fell onto her body? I don’t know,” says Bagceli.

The powerful magnitude 7.8 earthquake Monday struck both Türkiye and neighboring Syria, killing more than 3,400 people and injuring thousands more.

Omer Ongun also has family in Türkiye. His parents and sister narrowly escaped the earthquake, but they can’t go back home due to fear of aftershocks.

“They were very close to the epicenter,” says Ongun. “They barely made it out. Right now, they are in the car and they’re going to an open air kind of a field, away from the buildings. They’re really kind of trapped in their own way.”

The Turkish community in Ottawa is now coming together to organize relief efforts.

Hulya Gunay, the president of the Turkish Canadian Cultural Association, says, “In Ottawa, as the Turkish Canadian Cultural Association, we have organized within our community to send much needed winter supplies and financial support.”

Supplies such as winter clothing, blankets, hats, gloves, boots, sleeping bags, and tents will be collected and delivered to Türkiye with the help of Turkish Airlines on Wednesday and Friday.

As for Bagceli, all she can do now is hope and wait.

“I don’t know what to do. I want to go, hop on a plane and go, but they said all the roads, bridges, and tunnels are now collapsed and you cannot reach out to the city, other than the army I think. So I will try my chance tomorrow,” she says.

Anyone interested in donating supplies or relief funds is encouraged to visit the Turkish Canadian Cultural Association website for more information.

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