Cyprus Mail

Rescuers dug Turkish Cypriots out of rubble then dug their graves

File photo: Rescue workers at the Isias hotel where 35 Turkish Cypriots died

Rescuers from the north on Tuesday described the macabre scenes they witnessed in Adiyaman, while trying to save the Turkish Cypriot volleyball team buried under the rubble of the Isias hotel, while the ‘government’ is making plans to erect a memorial for the students and teachers.

Rescuer Nevzat Akcagil described the difficulty of separating their emotions from their work at the site.

“First we dug up the wreckage, then we dug graves and put them in, our hearts and minds fail to comprehend it,” he said.

The group of rescuers worked to recover all the bodies, then on their return to the island they helped to bury the members of the school group.

Tayfun Canakci, who was also at the hotel described the experience in tears, and also talked about the state the hotel was in, when they arrived.

He said: “The columns were hollow, and the concrete crumbled.”

Canakci added that when the crane tried to remove concrete slabs from the rubble, they would disintegrate.

Part of the civil defence in the north, the rescuers that spoke to Yeni Duzen, first visited the grave of their colleague Amac Arnavutoglu on their return to Cyprus.

Anravutoglu was buried in Nicosia, after his body was returned from the area of Hatay in Turkey, where he had gone for medical treatment when the earthquakes struck.

According to reports in the north, the total number of dead Turkish Cypriots reached 49. The ‘government’ said that Haci Avize was found dead in Kahranmaras, where he was buried with his family.

The Kyrenia ‘municipality’, where he was a shop owner, sent condolences to his family.

Reports in the north also said that the ‘cabinet’ will create a heroes memorial for the children and teachers that died. They will also create an indoor gym in memory of the team, and rename streets in the north after them.

Meanwhile, the cabinet of the Republic will on Wednesday discuss the possibility of declaring a three-day official mourning period for the victims, government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said.

Meanwhile flags at the House of Representatives are flying at half mast. “The President and members of the House of Representatives express their immense sorrow for the death of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots in the recent deadly earthquakes. There is shock and sorrow for the children’s smiles that were extinguished in the ruins,” a statement said.

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