ASIA/TURKEY - New earthquake of magnitude 4,7 in southeastern Turkey: the missionaries continue to provide their assistance

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Mersin (Agenzia Fides) - After the serious earthquake which on February 6, destroyed entire neighborhoods between Syria and Turkey (see Fides, 7/2/2023) a new shock recorded today March 14 shook the earth in the south-east of Turkey. The earthquake, of magnitude 4.7, occurred in Kahramanmaras, with its epicenter in the Goksun district. This was reported by the Authority for the management of disasters and emergencies (AFAD) of Turkey, according to which at the moment there are no victims.
On February 6, Kahramanmaras was one of the Turkish provinces devastated by two earthquakes of magnitude 7,7 and 7,6. The earthquake which also affected the areas of Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Adana, Adiyaman, Osmaniye, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya and Elazig caused the death of more than 50 thousand people to date.
While emergency interventions continue, among the task forces, organizations and charitable organizations that have intervened to help the population in serious difficulty since 6 February, the Camillians too through the Camillian Disaster Service International have joined the Capuchin Friars present in the places affected, especially at the mission stations of Antioch and Mersin.
According to the information from Cadis, the updates from the intervention sites tell of a reality that is still fragile and in the process of being organised. The Capuchins are present in Mersin and Antioch, two areas hard hit by the earthquake and where Brother Lorenzo Motti, provincial superior of the Capuchins of Emilia-Romagna, recently went for an inspection. Fortunately, the convent in Mersin was not totally destroyed and currently about 80 people are housed in the fraternity, including a dozen children and young people and a baby just 2 months old who lost his father.
Two Turkish nuns of the Incarnate Word helped with the organization of the rooms made fully available to the guests and with emergency management. In Mersin, in addition to Brother Roshan, guardian and parish priest, and Brother Mariusz, who are part of the fraternity, now there are also two other Capuchins who were in Antioch. The help being given to the survivors includes clothing and full meals. All meals are eaten communally in the convent hall. In the beginning, the Catholic community of Mersin helped with meal preparation. Later, shifts were organized among the housed people so that they feel useful and can do something to distract them. "The support the survivors are receiving is not only material, but also spiritual," Cadis sources continued, "a meeting was organized where they told what they experienced and are experiencing. The friars of the community live together with the earthquake victims and are always available for any kind of need."
In Antioch, on the other hand, the situation appears more dramatic and the convent has almost completely collapsed. Some areas of the center have been cleaned up and, once the emergency phase, which is still ongoing, is over, a long-term project will be evaluated to ensure safety and stability for the earthquake victims. Some families have been offered hospitality in Selcuk (Ephesus/Smyrna), where the local Catholic community meets, and in Izmir. One family with a young child is already hosted in the Capuchin convent in Istanbul.
Together with Caritas, Cadis will initiate a discussion to activate a resilience project to save and reorganize the small Christian communities in the area, to prevent them from dispersing. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 14/3/2023)