Death toll mounting after Türkiye, Syria earthquakes

By February 8, 2023
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Türkiye (MNN) — We are still following the aftermath of twin earthquakes and powerful aftershocks that struck Türkiye (formerly Turkey) and Syria early Monday.

Bruce Allen with FMI says, “It was in the dark of night when people were fleeing their homes, and as soon as obviously buildings were collapsed, they were advised not to even enter the buildings again. As daylight came, excavation rescue attempts were starting.”

The death toll continues to mount by the hundreds, and rescue attempts are ongoing in frigid temperatures. So far, over 11,000 people have died (combined death toll).

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared a state of emergency in 10 affected Turkish provinces.

Allen spoke with FMI ministry partners in Türkiye. They were praying for pastors lost in the rubble, including one Pastor Hakan Konur, his wife, Pola, and their young son, Yoel. 

Pastor Hakan Konur, his wife, Pola, and their son, Yoel. (Photo courtesy of FMI)

Allen says, “This morning, their son was pulled from the rubble. He survived. But then the prayer was request was for [Pastor Konur and Pola]. I just received word within the last hour that they both had died — mom and dad…. So pray for Yoel very specifically.”

It’s one of the many stories coming out of this disaster.

We do praise God that two other pastors FMI was praying for have been found alive under the rubble — Pastor Mehmet and Pastor Deniz.

Weather is impeding the ongoing rescue efforts. It is snowing in Türkiye and conditions are near-freezing. Rescue teams are having difficulty navigating the rubble and rugged terrain under ice and snow.

Allen asks, “Be praying for the rescue workers for their strength to work throughout the hours of whether it’s daylight or searchlights on in the night.”

The Turkish government systematically has not been renewing foreign Christian workers’ visas over the last several years. For the most part, the only Gospel remnant left in the country is indigenous Christians.

“At last count, the estimate was that in a country of about 85 million people, [there are] maybe 10,000-12,000 indigenous Christians,” Allen says.

“May God strengthen them to show compassion to their Muslim neighbors at a time of grief, a time of loss, and offer hope to be able to give testimony. What anchors our hope? It’s only Jesus Christ. So pray that God is glorified even in the rescue and relief efforts by stalwart Christians.”

You can help local Turkish Christians and relief efforts by giving here to FMI’s Where Needed Most fund.







Header photo shows the wreckage of a collapsed building, Diyarbakır, Turkey; courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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