UC Berkeley undergraduate Alp Eren Özdarendeli is unable to focus on his studies and stays awake all night hoping to reach friends and family in his hometown of Kahramanmaraş, a Turkish city close to the epicenters of last week’s devastating earthquakes.
As of Tuesday, nearly 38,000 people are reported dead across southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria, and tens of thousands are injured following the temblors — one a magnitude 7.8, the other, which hit nine hours later, a 7.5. They’re now among this century’s deadliest disasters.
“I lost two of my middle school friends, they were home on winter break,” explained Özdarendeli, who is majoring in electrical engineering and computer sciences. “And one of my closest friends lost his whole family. Every day, I hear of someone I know who has died.
“I’ve been in shock, actually. Unable to communicate with any counselors, officials, advisers. I really feel like no one can understand what I’m going through.”