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Locals worry for loved ones after devastating Turkey-Syria earthquake

By Alyssa Flores

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    FRESNO COUNTY, California (KFSN) — Valley families have been impacted by the devastating earthquake that has killed over 37,0000 people in Turkey and Syria.

While the death toll keeps growing, the survivors fear aftershocks and don’t know where they can go and feel safe.

California State Senator Melissa Hurtado describes the moment her husband, who was in Istanbul at the time, felt the destructive earthquake while hundreds of miles away from the epicenter.

Hurtado’s in-laws live much closer to where the earthquake struck.

“They can’t live in it. I mean, it could fall at any moment there is cracks through it all and they haven’t been allowed to go back in,” explained Hurtado.

While they are okay physically, the death and destruction all around is weighing on them.

“That is what they are focused on is the death toll. It just continues to go up, and up, and up. I think it’s just really emotionally impacting them,” Hurtado said.

In the last week, their lives have been turned upside down.

Now, they are sheltered with other family members, afraid another quake might hit and unsure where they go next.

“There is four different families staying in one home. and it’s the one home that is the safest to live in,” said Hurtado. “They are struggling to figure out what is next, right.”

At Pilgrim Armenian Congregational, parishioners prayed for the victims and survivors of the earthquake at the service in central Fresno this weekend.

“Daily, my wife and I are calling Aleppo and talking with our relatives with our friends, with our pastors,” said Pastor Nerses Balabanian.

Pastor Balabanian was born in Aleppo. His loved ones say there are still many aftershocks.

After the city withstood civil war airstrikes years ago, fear is compounded for some of the youngest survivors.

“The kids are terrified remembering that time when they had that rocket come and hit the home. So, now where are they? They are coming together in a church, they find the church safer to be there,” said Pastor Balabanian.

As the death toll continues to rise and survivors struggle, Pastor Balabanian says people in Turkey and Syria need the bare necessities. Food, blankets and shelter.

“We are so blessed here. we are so much blessed. and if God blessed us, it is our turn to bless others.”

There are many organizations and foundations offering support to the victims and survivors in Syria and Turkey.

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