In the wake of a devastating earthquake on Monday that has reportedly killed more than 21,000 people across Turkey and Syria, Mayor Eric Adams showed solidarity with Brooklyn’s Turkish community at the American Turkish Eyup Sultan Cultural Center in Brighton Beach during a Friday prayer service.
According to published reports, at least 78,124 people were injured in both countries as of Friday by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit southern and central Turkey as well as western Syria. The quake was followed by a series of aftershocks, one nearly as powerful as the first seismic event, that altogether toppled hundreds of buildings in both countries.
Many people were still being pulled from the rubble of collapsed structures on Friday including a 10-day-old baby and his mother.
The quake was reportedly the region’s deadliest in two decades.
While delivering remarks outside the mosque on Friday afternoon, Adams reflected on how the devastating quake may be impacting Brooklyn’s large Turkish community, which he said is one of the largest in the United States.
“This is one of the worst earthquakes in over 500 years, the number of lives and numbers continue to increase over and over again,” Adams said. “I’m sure everyone here, they are holding their breath hoping not to hear the name of a family member or a loved one. But even if you don’t hear that name, you know is your neighbor, is your colleague, is your friend. This is a very close knit community. And we are all feeling the pain that Turkey is going through right now.”
Adams said he has had a strong connection with Brooklyn’s Turkish community going back to his days as borough president and as a state Senator.
“I wanted to be here, not only as the mayor of the city, but you were here with me as the borough president, as a state senator,” Adams said. “You are my friends, my brothers, my sisters. We have prayed together here in the mosque behind us. We have navigated difficult times together. And this is one of those difficult times that we will face together.”
Among the victims was a Corona Queens family of four, who were killed when a five-story building they were in was demolished by the quake, according to a report by the Queens Post. Burak Firik, his wife Kimberly and their two young sons had been in the Turkish city of Elbistan for about a month after Burak left his job to spend more time with his family.
The American Turkish Eyup Sultan Cultural Center has raised money and collected clothing to help with the relief efforts, according to its president, Ibrahim Sen, as well as other organizations in the New York City area such as the Long Island-based Turkish Cultural Center. Sen said his center is shipping out 60 pallets of clothing to Turkey Friday night, and has received so many donations that they’ve told people to stop giving for the time being.
“I’m shocked, we [are] getting this crazy amount of help,” Sen said. “And I just want to thank every single one of the people that have been donating. My condolences to [the] entire Turkish nation and whoever lost their family members and my prayers are for Turkey.”