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Restaurant owner opens doors to homeless quake victims in southern Turkiye

February 8, 2023 at 2:12 pm

A view of debris as search and rescue works continue after a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit southern provinces of Turkiye, in Kahramanmaras, Turkiye on February 6, 2023 [Adsız Günebakan/Anadolu Agency]

A kebab restaurant owner in southern Turkiye’s Adana province has opened up his three restaurants to survivors of Monday’s earthquakes, Anadolu News Agency reports.

“After the first earthquake, we thought the safest place to go would be the restaurant,” Salih Oral told Anadolu.

“It was raining,” he recalled. “We saw people waiting in their cars, sitting on the pavement or just milling around without a place to go.”

Oral said he “immediately opened the doors of the restaurant and has been providing free food, soup and tea ever since.”

For the past 48 hours, people whose homes were damaged by the twin earthquakes – or completely destroyed – have been taking shelter in his restaurants.

Oral is also sending food to nearby cities that have been affected by the quakes, including Kahramanmaras and Hatay.

READ: Earthquake hits Palestine, with its epicentre in Nablus

Leyla Arslan, a 65-year-old housewife, has been taking shelter in Oral’s restaurant since the first earthquake struck in the early hours of Monday.

“I was so panicked that I almost jumped from the balcony during the earthquake,” said Arslan. “My husband and I huddled under the front door until the tremor stopped.”

Since then, she and her husband, fearing more tremors, have been staying at one of Oral’s restaurants.

Earthquake survivor, Didem Incekuran, 24, has also been staying at the restaurant since Monday.

“I know I should have found a safe spot at home during the earthquake, but I panicked; we ran downstairs,” she said.

Oral is not the only one helping out earthquake survivors. Many other cafes and restaurants in Adana have opened their doors around the clock to provide shelter for local residents who lost their homes.

“We don’t want to go back home yet. We feel safe here,” Incekuran said, voicing her gratitude for Oral’s kindness.

“It is time to unite,” Oral, for his part, said.

“In our religion, Islam, it is obligatory to help those in need.”

At least 7,108 people were killed and 40,910 others injured in Turkiye after two strong earthquakes on Monday jolted the southern part of the country, according to the latest figures announced by the disaster agency on Wednesday.

The 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes, centred in the Kahramanmaras province, struck 10 provinces and affected more than 13 million people.

Turkiye, on Tuesday, announced a state of emergency for three months in 10 quake-hit provinces, including Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa.

Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, felt the two major quakes that struck in Turkiye in the space of less than 10 hours.

“We are facing one of the biggest disasters not only of the history of the Republic of Turkiye but also of our geography and the world,” Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

READ: As death toll climbs, Syrians continue to wait for aid