Home World Earthquake in Turkey, Msgr. Bizzeti: «Total disaster». In Iskenderun, collapsed cathedral

Earthquake in Turkey, Msgr. Bizzeti: «Total disaster». In Iskenderun, collapsed cathedral

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Earthquake in Turkey, Msgr.  Bizzeti: «Total disaster».  In Iskenderun, collapsed cathedral

The vicar of Anatolia and president of Caritas Turkey announces the mobilization of Christian organizations to bring aid to the affected populations. The testimony of Msgr. Audo in Aleppo: “A great deal of fear of violent tremors”

(AsiaNews) – “A total disaster”. With a sentence, dry and dramatic due to the extent of the devastation, the vicar of Anatolia, mgr. Paolo Bizzeti tells ad AsiaNews il earthquake which struck in the night in Turkey, causing hundreds of deaths also in neighboring Syria. The prelate is in Italy these days for a series of meetings, but for hours he has been in contact – as far as possible, because the lines are difficult and communications are interrupted for a long time – with the faithful and collaborators in the area. «The Cathedral of the Vicariate in Iskenderun (the Church of the Annunciation, a 19th century building, ndr) has collapsed – he adds – all the buildings are unusable” but for now in the local Christian community “there are no victims”.

The prelate is also president of Caritas Turkey and has already announced “the opening of a subscription” to help the local population. “The earthquake struck in the middle of the night, it was just after 4 in the morning” and this took most of the people who were resting in their homes by “surprise”. “A disastrous event – he adds, and still now – there is a lot of fear” for further, possible strong aftershocks that often follow the main earthquake.

In these hours in Italy for an event scheduled tonight in Veneto, but already canceled and looking for a ticket to start again in the next few hours, is also John Farhad Sadredin, head of Caritas Anatolia. “I tried to contact several people in the area – he tells ad AsiaNews – but until recently entire areas were isolated and it was not possible to communicate by telephone. We are hosting about seventy people left homeless – continues Farhad – in a church and in the refectory” of the community, in the city that was once known as Alessandretta “the damage is serious and extensive”.

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“The main shock occurred shortly after 4 in the morning, throughout the region the toll is very heavy, several buildings have collapsed and in one of these a member of our community in Antioch is also missing”. “There are at least 200 collapsed buildings, they are trying to recover the victims. The wall and roof of the Syriac church also came down; The Orthodox church has also collapsed and there are policemen under the rubble. Research is underway – he concludes – while we are looking for a ticket to be able to return, but the runway of Hatay airport, which serves the city of Antakya (ancient Antioch, ndr) and Iskenderun was destroyed. Damages are also recorded in the hospitals of the two cities and at the police station».

Meanwhile, the death toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake (some sources speak of 7.9 Richter) which hit Turkey and Syria continues to worsen, but was felt distinctly in many other countries including Lebanon, Israel , Greece by millions. In Turkey the toll is 284 dead, but the figure continues to rise as the minutes go by, to which more than 2,300 injured are added, but even in this case it is only a partial estimate. According to some experts it could be the worst in the country’s recent history, with at least 40 aftershocks already recorded.

In a note, Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan announced the dispatch of search and rescue teams “in the most affected regions. We hope to survive this disaster – he added – as quickly as possible and with the least amount of damage, and we continue to work ». In Gaziantep, near the epicenter, the historic castle, one of the most famous symbols of the city, was destroyed and a state of emergency is in force throughout the country. In neighboring Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad presided over an emergency meeting, the victims are already 427 (plus another 120 in rebel-controlled areas) and the injured have exceeded 600. The governorates of Aleppo, Homs, Latakia and Hama.

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“We felt the earthquake in a very distinct way – says ad AsiaNews mgr. Antoine Audo, Chaldean bishop of Aleppo and former president of Caritas Syria -. We were very scared, three very violent tremors followed in less than two minutes. There are also many deaths in Syria, the official data is constantly updated. Damage has been reported in Aleppo, Tartus, Idlib and in many other cities there are collapsed buildings. Here in the bishopric, stones from the nearby mosque have fallen, part of the minaret has collapsed. There is damage throughout the city, first the war that caused so much damage and now the earthquake… now we evaluate the first estimates, then we will move with the various Christian organizations to bring aid to the affected populations”.

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