'Unfathomable agony': Canadian soccer star on the horror of residing via the Turkey earthquake

Former Vancouver Whitecap Sam Adekugbe lives and performs in Antayka, a metropolis in Turkey that was one of many hardest hit by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that ripped via the area on Monday. He misplaced pals and teammates, and plenty of are nonetheless lacking.

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It wasn’t late when Sam Adekugbe received again to his home on Sunday with a couple of of his Hatayspor teammates. However they have been all buzzing, nonetheless excessive on the adrenalin rush and unable to sleep after Christian Atsu had scored within the 97th minute to offer them a 1-0 win over Kasımpaşa.

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After they left a couple of hours later, he sat down, and the world started to shake.

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Adekugbe’s first thought: He was having a panic assault.

“Then it simply saved getting an increasing number of extreme. I began listening to chaos in my kitchen, plates and cups and all the things flying off, then the desk falling over, the TV falling over,” stated the Canadian males’s worldwide and former Vancouver Whitecaps participant.

It was the primary of two earthquakes that hit central Turkey and Syria. The town the place Adekugbe lives — Antakya, in Hatay province — was one of many worst hit, with whole neighbourhoods flattened.

The loss of life toll is at 11,000 and certain to climb greater. There are nonetheless round 150,000 individuals lacking — together with Atsu, who was at Adekugbe’s home that night time. Regardless of reviews of him being rescued from the rubble, Atsu remains to be lacking.

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A man uses a flashlight to check damaged buildings, in the aftermath of an earthquake, in Antakya, Turkey, Feb. 8, 2023.
A person makes use of a flashlight to test broken buildings, within the aftermath of an earthquake, in Antakya, Turkey, Feb. 8, 2023. Picture by GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE /REUTERS

When the shaking stopped, Adekugbe went exterior into freezing rain, lighting and extra chaos. Individuals have been yelling, screaming, roads have been buckled and damaged.

Not understanding what to do, the 28-year-old received in his automobile to make the 20-minute drive to the Hatayspor coaching floor.

“It simply felt like a film. You’re seeing collapsed buildings, fires, individuals yelling, individuals crying. You’re seeing individuals digging via rubble, damaged items of homes … belongings you by no means actually count on.

“As I began driving nearer in direction of the coaching grounds … you began seeing even worse. Roads break up, bridges damaged, 12-storey highrises simply utterly collapsed. Households in search of the family members, mother and father in search of their youngsters, youngsters in search of their mother and father, and it was simply … unfathomable.”

It was now early morning, and the sunshine of day uncovered the apocalyptic scene that had been hidden by darkness and rain. Antakya was a ruined metropolis. There was pleasure as teammates trickled into the coaching floor, however sombreness as some names didn’t.

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Sporting director Taner Savut can be nonetheless among the many lacking. It’s tragedy that left nobody unscathed, even when bodily unhurt.

“Individuals are lacking, persons are nonetheless lacking (now). There’s no web service. It was simply onerous to understand, after which all through the day, you’re simply attempting to assist individuals, and search for your teammates,” Adekugbe stated by Zoom from Istanbul, the place he was staying with Canada teammate Atiba Hutchinson.

“Then you begin to see simply even how rather more devastating it’s. You’re trying via rubble looking for your teammates, and attempting to yell for them in darkened areas of flats that was once standing … it’s simply one thing you by no means (thought you’d) end up doing. It’s one thing you may’t like actually clarify.

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“It’s additionally individuals who work across the crew. One in every of my kitmen, it turned out he died. One of many girls who works within the kitchen, she misplaced her daughters and her mom,” he added.

“One in every of my different kitmen, his spouse, she wants like pressing medical care however as a result of the hospital was destroyed, she doesn’t have it.

“It actually begins to hit dwelling whenever you simply see just like the agony and the desperation on their faces. Additionally, residing in a spot the place it’s not probably the most tremendous financial energy … they’re already coming from tough locations, and with all the things taken away from them, it’s unfathomable how rather more tough it’s.”

Sam Adekugbe and Atiba Hutchinson.
Sam Adekugbe and Atiba Hutchinson. Picture by Martin Bazyl/Canada Soccer /PNG

Hutchinson was the primary name Adekugbe made within the early hours of the morning, FaceTiming him from his ruined dwelling. Hutchinson was solely woken up by his name, not any tremors, as Istanbul was spared the quake’s wrath. With energy and web connectivity erratic, Adekugbe was out and in of contact, however managed to let his mother and father know he was secure.

He made it to Istanbul with three suitcases and his canine, after Hatayspor’s coach, Volkan Demirel, referred to as the president of his former membership, Fenerbahçe, to rearrange a aircraft for his gamers. They flew out of Adana, about an hour away by bus.

Demirel’s tearful plea for assist has been replayed on social media and newscasts world wide because the worldwide neighborhood slowly involves grips with the dimensions of destruction in Turkey and Syria.

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Hutchinson and Adekugbe are doing no matter they’ll to assist.

“It’s a tough time right here in Turkey,” stated Hutchinson. “You realize these individuals so nicely, and what they’ve given to me and what they’ve performed for my household … and simply to see the state of what the nation goes via proper now, and the way a lot damage … it’s only a tragedy.

“What’s necessary for us … is simply get the message out to everyone in Canada of what Sam and I are attempting to do when it comes to getting assist and getting donations.

“Individuals are simply actually in unhealthy circumstances proper now and it’s actually chilly right here. Simply making it via the day and the night time, it’s extraordinarily tough. We’re simply doing no matter we will to get the message to Canadians.”

The 2 have partnered with Crimson Cross and a Turkish platform, AHBAP.org, which is elevating cash for catastrophe reduction.

For extra data on how British Columbians might help, click on right here.

[email protected]


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People walk past a building affected by an earthquake in Antakya, Hatay Province, Turkey Feb. 7, 2023.
Individuals stroll previous a constructing affected by an earthquake in Antakya, Hatay Province, Turkey Feb. 7, 2023. Picture by GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE /REUTERS

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Originally posted 2023-02-09 01:35:26.