“A humanitarian aid worker participating in rescue efforts in Turkey described the first 72 hours after the area was hit by a devastating earthquake as “unprecedented.”
Salah Aboulgasem, 36, told BuzzFeed News via a late-night WhatsApp call that the level of destruction is even worse than it seems.
“I’m sure that the images that are being shown all around the world are very difficult,” he said. “But seeing it here, meeting people, looking into the eyes and seeing the suffering that people are facing is something [at a] completely different level.”
Aboulgasem, who has 16 years’ experience in humanitarian aid, is a worker with Islamic Relief, a nonprofit organization that has been assisting search and rescue teams by providing shelter, medical aid, and food in Turkey and Syria in response to the deadly earthquakes. He arrived in Gaziantep, a province in southern Turkey, on Monday to aid in the emergency response efforts after the region experienced a catastrophic 7.8-magnitude earthquake. At least 20,000 people were killed in the disaster.
According to a statement released on Monday, Islamic Relief has launched a $24 million global appeal to provide urgent aid to Turkey and Syria.
Aboulgasem told BuzzFeed News of the painful moments he witnessed working on the ground.