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A Thai student in Türkiye who was affected by the devastating earthquake is trying to make the best of a tough situation by helping other survivors. 

Mr Suraphat Kobkaew told CNA on Wednesday (Feb 8) that he had been asleep when the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck central Türkiye and Syria rocked his nine-storey building.

The tremors that struck in the early hours of Monday left cracks in his residence, and “some part(s) of the wall fell down to the ground”, said the 23-year-old. 

Mr Kobkaew, who managed to escape unscathed, is currently staying in a camp at Cukurova University located in Adana with other quake survivors.

He adds that the others in the camp are people “who cannot go back to their homes”.

Despite nervousness and anxiety about the evolving situation, Mr Kobkaew said that he has been lending a hand by distributing food, carrying blankets and other necessities. 

“Why I am helping the camp? Because during the hard time(s), it is better to do something good and I’m still alive and healthy,” he explained. 

Cukurova University and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have provided those seeking shelter with food, heat and “some cushion(s) to sleep on”.

Mr Kobkaew said that they have been supplied with items that are easy to consume such as soup and bread. 

Cracks in the walls of Mr Suraphat Kobkaew’s building in Adana, Türkiye. (Photos: Suraphat Kobkaew)


Mr Kobkaew said that he is unable to sleep at night because he “doesn’t know when (the earthquake) will happen again”.

The Türkiye-Syria border is one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.

Mr Kobkaew’s family and friends back in Thailand are worried about him given the situation in Türkiye. “They have been contacting me since the earthquake happened.”

He adds that the mood at the camp is also “a little bit gloomy” as people do not know how long the situation will last.

Mr Kobkaew told CNA that the situation in Adana is “ok now” and that rescue teams are coming to help the Turkish authorities, who are mounting rescue operations round the clock.

The number of casualties, however, remains uncertain, said Mr Kobkawew, as there are still many people stuck in the debris.

Monday’s earthquake, which has claimed more than 11,200 lives, was the largest Türkiye has seen since 1939, when 33,000 people died in the eastern Erzincan province.

In 1999, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake killed more than 17,000.

Experts have long warned that a large quake could devastate Istanbul, a megalopolis of 16 million people filled with rickety homes.

The World Health Organization has warned that up to 23 million people could be affected by the massive earthquake and urged nations to rush help to the disaster zone.

Turkish authorities on Tuesday said about 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 450km from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east, and 300km from Malatya in the north to Hatay in the south.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said its advance team of 20 officers had arrived in Adana to help with rescue efforts. An additional 48 personnel will also leave for Adana within the next 48 hours.