ANKARA, Türkiye — Rescuers in Turkey and war-ravaged Syria searched through the frigid night into Tuesday, hoping to pull more survivors from the rubble after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed more than 4,000 people and toppled thousands of buildings across a wide region.
Authorities feared the death toll from Monday's pre-dawn earthquake and aftershocks would keep climbing as rescuers looked for survivors among tangles of metal and concrete spread across the region beset by Syria’s 12-year civil war and refugee crisis.
The earthquake struck at 4 in the morning as many slept. Former Fishers resident Fouod Masri founded the Crescent Project. He has seen the devastation and quickly checked on family and friends in the Syria and Turkey.
"We have friends, people that we work with on the ground in Turkey and in Syria. We checked on them. We know some Hoosiers who are in the country of Turkey," said Masri. "They're safe."
The quake and sizeable aftershocks are the worst to hit the region since 1939.
"I'm connected with some people in a town, I've talked with people in a town. The buildings have fallen, including the hospital has been destroyed, so that's another crisis," Masri said.
He said the rescue efforts are even more difficult because of the weather.
"The other struggle that we talked to some friends is the weather is very cold. It's very rainy. Some areas got hail, other places have snow, so the rescue efforts are being done by hands. Sometimes they can't get machines there. On top of that if you're in Syria, Syria has been going through a civil war for 11 years, so it's on top of the damage," said Masri.
Masri said financial donations will go toward relief effort and he encourages people to pray for the rescuers and all the people impacted by the catastrophe.
How you can help
Several Indiana businesses and organizations are putting on relief efforts for the earthquake.
- Crescent Project - Give to the organization online.
- Williams Comfort Air - Drop off winter clothing and boots, baby essentials, hygiene products, and sleeping bags and blankets to their Indianapolis location by Saturday.
- Purdue Turkish Student Association - The group is holding a vigil and fundraiser Friday, Feb. 10. The event will be in room 1132 of the Wilmeth Active Learning Center.