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‘With his beloved Jesus’: Friends and kin mourn Sydney man ‘left to die’ in Turkey quake

Body of Sydney man found in Turkish quake rubble

A Sydney man has died in the catastrophic earthquake in Turkey, as Australian officials support 50 other Australians and their families known to be in the disaster zone.

Can Pahali’s body was found in rubble after members of his family flew from Australia to help search for him.

A family member told AAP he was heading to the site where Mr Pahali’s body had been found in the rubble of a collapsed building, to dig his uncle out.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told parliament he was deeply saddened to have received a report an Australian had tragically lost their life.

“Our thoughts (are) with all those who have loved ones back in Turkey, Syria and in the region and our hope is good news presents itself,” he said on Thursday.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade continues to provide consular assistance to Australians unaccounted for, of whom tragically there are a number at this point in time.

“Their safety is our immediate priority and we understand how difficult the situation is for their loved ones back here.”

Consular efforts to find loved ones

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said consular teams in Turkey and Lebanon were working hard to help family members concerned about their loved ones.

“We are supporting around 50 other Australians and their families who were in the earthquake area and have asked for support with crisis accommodation, short-term loans and travel documents,” he said.

“Australian diplomatic missions in Ankara, Istanbul and Beirut are doing all they can in difficult circumstances to reach out to Australians reported to be in the area.”

Mr Pahali’s family had urged the Australian government on Wednesday to help in the search for him, as he was visiting his sister in the badly affected Hatay province.

The magnitude 7.8 quake has claimed the lives of more than 12,000 people in Turkey and neighbouring Syria since it struck in the southern Turkish province of Kahramanmaras on Monday.

‘Now with Jesus’

Mr Pahali was an active community member in Sydney’s inner-west suburb of Glebe.

A friend paid tribute to Mr Pahali, who was also known as “John”, in a social media group.

“A sad update. In recent hours John’s (Can Pahali’s) body has been recovered from earthquake rubble in Turkiye,” the post said.

“He has had a wonderful six months reuniting with his large family in different areas of his country.

“He is now with his beloved Jesus. God bless you John! We shall miss you so much.”

In a previous post, the friend said Mr Pahali would be remembered for “making wonderful feasts and food for Have A Chat Cafe”.

“His nephew’s flown from Sydney to help in the search for him and other family members, also now missing,” the post said.

‘Left to die’

“Pray for him and his family in Turkey and here in Australia.”

Mr Pahali’s niece, Katherine Pahali, said her brother was rushing to Turkey but “couldn’t get there fast enough”.

“A piece of my heart passed away,” she told the Nine newspapers.

“He was left to die for over 60 hours.”

Mr Pahali was in Hatay, where there is much earthquake damage. Photo: Getty

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed the fatality in Parliament on Thursday,

“I am deeply saddened to have been given a report just during question time that one Australian has tragically lost their life in the devastation
that has occurred in Turkey and Syria,” he said.

The magnitude 7.8 quake which struck the southern Turkish province of Kahramanmaras on Monday more than 12,000 people in the country and neighbouring Syria.

Chaotic quake response

Thursday’s confirmation came as Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan, has admitted there are problems with his government’s initial response to the devastating earthquakes, amid anger from those left destitute and frustrated about the slow arrival of rescue teams.

Mr Erdogan, who faces an election in May, said on a visit to the disaster zone operations were now working normally and promised no one would be left homeless, as the combined reported death toll in Turkey and neighbouring Syria climbed to more than 12,000.

Across a swathe of southern Turkey, people sought temporary shelter and food in freezing winter weather and waited in anguish by piles of rubble where family and friends might still lie buried.

Rescuers were still finding some people alive but many Turks have complained of a lack of equipment, expertise and support to rescue those trapped – sometimes even as they could hear cries for help.

There were similar scenes and complaints in neighbouring Syria, whose north was hard hit by Monday’s huge quake.

‘Lack of equipment’

Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations admitted the government had a “lack of capabilities and lack of equipment”, blaming more than a decade of civil war in his country and Western sanctions.

The death toll from both countries was expected to rise further as hundreds of collapsed buildings in many cities have become tombs for people who were asleep when the quake hit.

In the Turkish city of Antakya, dozens of bodies, some covered in blankets and sheets and others in body bags, were lined up on the ground outside a hospital.

Many in the disaster zone had slept in their cars or in the streets under blankets in freezing cold, fearful of going back into buildings shaken by the 7.8 magnitude tremor – Turkey’s deadliest since 1999 – and by a second powerful quake hours later.

A Russian rescuer searches for survivors in Jableh in Syria’s northwest. Photo: Getty

The confirmed death toll rose to 9057 in Turkey on Wednesday.

In war-wrecked Syria, the confirmed toll climbed to more than 2950, according to the government and a rescue service operating in the rebel-held northwest.

Turkish officials say some 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 450 kilometres from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east.

In Syria, people were killed as far south as Hama, 250 kilometres from the epicentre.

Some who died in Turkey were refugees from Syria’s war.

Their body bags arrived at the border in taxis, vans and piled atop flatbed trucks to be taken to final resting places in their homeland.

More than 298,000 people have been made homeless and 180 shelters for the displaced had been opened, Syrian state media reported, apparently referring to areas under government control, and not held by opposition factions.

-with AAP

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