Two Ugandans missing after Turkey, Syria earthquake – Minister Oryem as death toll hits 20,000

By Priscillah Maloba & E K Benj

Foreign Affairs State Minister Okello Oryem. PHOTO/JULIET NALWOGA

Uganda State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Okello Oryem has assured the public that there is no Ugandan who has died in the Turkey and Syria earthquakes, saying, however, two are still missing.

The most powerful earthquake to strike Turkey and Syria in nearly a century occurred on Monday killing over 20,000 people.

“There are four girls, two girls in one apartment and two girls in another. Two girls in one apartment have been found safe and sound and they have informed the authorities that two of their friends in another apartment are missing. They are looking for them,” Mr Oryem said, adding that a Ugandan gentleman who was buried under the rubble, has been recovered and taken to hospital and is in good shape right now.


“We have gotten in touch with leaders of Ugandan communities in Turkey and asked them to be on the watch for each other and report cases of individuals who are missing so that we can inform the Turkish authorities to take appropriate action,” he said in an interview with NTV on Thursday.

Mr Oryem said that most Ugandans living in Turkey are working in industries and that as government they don’t intend to bring them back home abruptly because that will be the end of their lifeline for survival.

“If there are cases of those Ugandans that are desperate and want to come back home, we can find methods to bring them back,” he said.

The Monday’s first quake struck at 4.17am (0117 GMT) at a depth of about 18 kilometres (11 miles) near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, which is home to around two million people, the US Geological Survey said.

This was a 7.8-magnitude early morning quake, followed by dozens of aftershocks, that wiped out entire sections of major Turkish cities in a region filled with millions who have fled Syria’s civil war and other conflicts.

Rescuers used heavy equipment and their bare hands to peel back rubble in search of survivors, whom they could in some cases hear begging for help under the debris.

Turkey’s last 7.8-magnitude tremor was in 1939 when 33,000 people died in the eastern Erzincan province.

The Turkish region of Duzce suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999, and more than 17,000 people died — including about 1,000 in Istanbul.

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