Stanley man 'helpless' as he returns to Antakya to offer support after Turkey earthquake

Suleyman Yildirim is visiting Antakya after a powerful earthquake hit Turkey and northern Syria on Monday 6 February. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees News

A Turkish man living in the UK has said he felt "helpless" as he returned to his home country to deliver aid following the earthquakes which have caused widespread devastation.

Suleyman Yildirim, who lives in Stanley, County Durham, travelled 2,900 miles to Antakya, with his brother and two nephews to distribute a van full of supplies.

He said arriving home was like "heading into a demolition site" as he fears for family members who have still not been found.

Mr Yildirim added: "We arrived yesterday morning to Antakya and it was the first time we had seen it in the daylight and in the flesh.

"It was a total shock. The centre of the city is totally devastated and some of the outskirts as you head towards the city are really bad.

"It was like heading into a demolition site, that's what it looked like.

"Anywhere you look, it was totally demolished."

  • Mr Yildirim shared a video with ITV Tyne Tees showing the devastation from the earthquake he saw as he entered Antakya.

A powerful 7.8 magnitude quake rocked south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria on Monday 6 February.

The tremors from the earthquake, which was centred about 60 miles from the Syrian border, just north of the Turkish city of Gaziantep, were felt as far away as Cairo in Egypt.

Mr Yildirim arrived in Turkey to the news that some of his extended family had died in the disaster.

He said: "My family are still here, some of them managed to get out.

"Yesterday we managed to see most of the family. There was more bad news yesterday so more people have passed, they lost their lives in the disaster.

"It is absolutely shattering, we had all sorts of mixed emotions going through the city yesterday, it was a very emotional, shattering experience.

"It's absolutely devastating so many people's lives are ruined in this disaster."

  • Mr Yildirim spoke to ITV Tyne Tees on Wednesday 15 February.

Mr Yildirim said survivors of the earthquake are desperate for thermal layers as they are currently sleeping and living outdoors, as well as cleaning and sanitary products.

He said although he and his family members have managed to distribute a van's worth of supplies, it still does not feel enough.

He added: "We are trying to help as many people as we can.

"We came over here with lots of aid from the UK and also we purchased loads of stuff from Agra, we filled our van with aid, medical supplies, sanitary products, cleaning supplies, thermal clothing we filled our vehicle to the brim.

"We managed to spread most of it yesterday and today there's some stuff still left but that's going to be distributed this afternoon.

"Even though I'm here to help people out, this morning I felt helpless myself because there is not enough for me to help everybody."

"The support and help we received from the UK was absolutely phenomenal and it's still coming in, but we appreciate all of it."

More than 41,000 people have died across southern Turkey and northwestern Syria following the earthquake, however many bodies are still buried beneath the rubble and so the exact number is still unknown.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...