Syrian family who survived earthquake die in Turkey house fire

Syrian family who survived earthquake die in Turkey house fire
The Syrian family, which included five children, were staying with relatives in the Turkish central city of Konya after leaving Gaziantep Province following the devastating February 6 earthquake.
3 min read
17 February, 2023
Emergency services were unable to stop the fire in time [Getty]

A Syrian family of seven, including five children, have lost their lives in a house fire in the Turkish city of Konya, days after surviving the deadly earthquake that struck the country on February 6.

The family arrived at their relatives' home in the central city of Konya after leaving the town of Nurdagi in Gaziantep province, which was devastated during the disaster 11 days ago, the Arabic-language news outlet Arabi21 reported on Friday.

The fire broke out from a stove in the detached house where the family was staying, causing the roof to collapse, according to Arabi21, which cited local media. Firefighters and emergency services arrived at the scene but could not extinguish the blaze in time to save the Syrian family.

The family members were identified as 42-year-old Maryam Al-Mohammed, her husband Munir Al-Zaher, as well their five children: twin sisters Wiam and Reham, 13, eight-year-old Shaimaa, and brothers Saddam and Youssef, who were six and four, respectively.

It remains unclear when the family began staying at the home in Konya.

Gaziantep, which is home to a sizeable Syrian refugee population, was one of the country’s most affected regions in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which has killed at least 42,000 people, mostly in Turkey as well as neighbouring Syria. Thousands more are injured, many in need of shelter, medical aid and basic goods.

Several properties and businesses in Gaziantep were destroyed or damaged in the earthquake - many of which belonged to Syrians - leaving them homeless and out of work. Gaziantep’s Syrian residents are active in the city’s economy.

Scores of Syrians are believed to have died in the earthquake in Turkey, though the exact number remains unknown.

The death toll in Syria has reached 6,000, including 4,400 in the rebel-held northwest as of February 16. UN officials have warned that the death toll could be much higher.

Live Story

Turkey hosts approximately 3.5 million Syrian refugees, most of whom fled the ongoing civil war in their home country, where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried a brutal crackdown on protesting civilians in 2011.

Syrians in Turkey often face discrimination and racism, and are often blamed by Turkish politicians from both left and right-wing factions for the country's economic woes. There have been several instances of racist attacks on Syrians by Turks in the country.

Several politicians, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have vowed to send more Syrian refugees back to Turkey, which is deemed illegal under international law. Turkish officials claim to have returned around 500,000 to so-called safe zones, prompting condemnation from activsts and rights groups.