New Jerseyans with ties to Turkey, Syria anxiously wait on word from loved ones as earthquake death toll rises

Many Paterson residents have been glued to their televisions and computers as they see the images coming out of the region.

News 12 Staff

Feb 8, 2023, 3:14 AM

Updated 523 days ago

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The death toll is nearing 8,000 as crews across vast areas of Turkey and Syria work to rescue countless others suffering from devastating earthquakes.
Many people back in New Jersey who have loved ones in those countries say they are left feeling helpless. Paterson has one of the largest Turkish populations in the United States.
Many Paterson residents have been glued to their televisions and computers as they see the images coming out of the region. In one such scene, emergency responders were talking with two children who were trapped under the rubble for more than 24 hours.
These people say that they fear that for everyone who gets rescued, there will be many others who can’t be saved.
“I’m really sad. For my country, for my people,” says Ozlem Has, of Clifton.
Has moved to New Jersey six years ago. She says that she was raised in a part of Turkey that was hit hard. It is located between where the two major quakes hit. She says her grandfather survived in Hatay – another place where half the city is in ruins. The destruction covers hundreds of miles.
Many in New Jersey are waiting to hear from a friend or relative back home.
“My friend and his wife and their 2-year-old daughter…haven’t heard from them,” says Ali Lastikci.
He was born in Turkey but moved to the United States as a child.
“It’s just sad, you know There’s not much to say. A lot of people are dead,” Lastikci says.
Has says that Turkey’s building standards made the disaster worse.
"I am angry. I cannot do anything from here and nobody can do anything from there, you know? The aid organizations went there but it’s not enough,” she says.
The mayors of Paterson, Prospect Park and Montvale all have roots in Syria. They are calling on the White House to send equipment to help with rescues in the war-torn country as well as in southern Turkey.


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