'We are scared we lost them': UK's Turkish community worried after earthquakes

Sejal Karia heard from a Turkish community in North London

UK residents with loved ones in Turkey have been left devastated after two major earthquakes hit the neighbouring nations.

More than 2,800 people have been killed after the quakes rocked south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria on Monday.

The first had a magnitude of 7.8 and hit the region at 4am. Less than 10 hours later, a second one followed.

Turkish communities across the UK have been desperate for news about their relatives.

People search through the wreckage of a collapsed building, in Azmarin town. Credit: AP

In north London, Hayri Gul managed to get through to his friend's son - Hassan - in the Turkish city of Gaziantep.

Over video call, Hassan told ITV News that he and his family had been sleeping when the earthquake struck.

"The lamps were shaking, we were shaking also. We didn't know what we had to do. We were shocked. My sister was crying, my brother was screaming," he said.

Hayri Gul talks to his friend's son Hassan via video call.

Hayri is relieved Hassan and his family are alive, but is greatly concerned for those he can't get through to.

"Some of them we can contact. Some of them we can't contact. We are scared we lost them. Maybe they die, they lost the house, or they're outside at the moment," he said.

Many in the UK want to travel to Turkey and Syria to be with their loved ones and help with aid efforts. But with airports shut, that's proving impossible.

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How is the UK helping the devastated region?

The UK is sending a team of 76 search-and-rescue specialists, complete with state-of-the-art equipment and four specially trained dogs, to Turkey, with a flight scheduled to leave Birmingham on Monday night.

In Syria, the UK has for many years provided support to the White Helmets rescue team, which has operated to save lives during the bloody civil war in the country.

Although the area of Turkey which has suffered the highest degree of damage does not receive a large number of British visitors, the Foreign Office has been in contact with UK humanitarian workers in the affected areas and is ready to provide support to Britons caught up in the disaster.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said no Britons had been reported dead in the quake which has devastated parts of Turkey and Syria, but he acknowledged it was still too early to say whether that would remain the case as the full picture emerges.

The British Red Cross on Monday launched an emergency fundraising appeal to support the response and get aid to those who need it in Syria and Turkey.

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