Family searches Turkish hospitals for GHA doctor missing in earthquake
Relatives of a GHA doctor missing since a major earthquake devastated large areas of Turkey and Syria earlier this week are searching hospitals near his last known location.
Dr George Chami, an orthopaedic and trauma surgeon, was visiting Antakya in southern Turkey when the earthquake struck and the apartment building he was staying in collapsed.
Members of his family have travelled to Turkey to join search efforts but rescuers have not found him in the collapsed apartment block, according to GBC.
The family have heard that in a previous search effort an injured man was recovered from the site and a relative told the Chronicle they are now concentrating their efforts on nearby hospitals.
As this newspaper went to print, the next step of the search of the building was also underway, with heavy machinery brought in.
Dr Chami’s family have also been in contact with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Gibraltar Government.
In a press statement the Covent said the Governor is aware of the circumstances of Dr Chami who has been caught in the appalling natural disaster there.
“The Governor, and the Convent Team, share the concern of the Government of Gibraltar and of all Gibraltarians, and wish to send our personal and heartfelt sympathies to George’s family, and to the relatives and friends of the many thousands of people in Turkey who have been affected by this tragedy,” the statement said.
“The Convent continues to work alongside the Government of Gibraltar and in concert with the FCDO consular team in the UK and the British Embassy in Turkey.”
“We all hope for George’s safety and quick return to us here in Gibraltar.”
Yesterday, the FCDO said it continues to support his family and is in contact with Turkish authorities, but could not provide any further updates.
Britons in Turkey have urged people back home to send money as volunteers from the UK began rescuing people from the rubble left by the “brutal” earthquake.
The Red Cross in Gibraltar has also launched an appeal to collect funds for the international aid effort.
Firefighters from across the UK have joined the International Search and Rescue Team (UK-ISAR) to begin rescuing those who became trapped since the 7.8 magnitude quake hit on Monday – as the death toll passed 19,000.
Saleh Saeed, UK chief executive of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), told a press conference millions of people in Turkey and Syria are in “desperate need” of aid.
The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said the UK Government will match £5 million in funds raised through an appeal to help the rescue and relief effort in the aftermath of the earthquake.
More than 70 ISAR-UK volunteers are currently taking part in the rescue effort, and on Thursday, they tweeted to say they had recently managed to rescue two women, aged 60 and 90, from the rubble.
The first 7.8-magnitude quake hit the Turkish city of Gaziantep in the early hours of Monday, reducing thousands of homes and buildings across the south of the country and northern Syria to rubble as people slept.
A series of aftershocks has left tens of thousands injured and survivors are feared trapped under thousands of collapsed buildings.
On Tuesday, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said the department’s Crisis Response Hub is working to support at least 35 Britons caught up in the disaster – including three who were missing.
When asked how he would encourage Brits who might be struggling with the cost of living to donate to the appeal, Mr Saeed emphasised the “brutal” impact of the earthquake on people’s lives.
He said: “We have got to position ourselves in the situation these families find themselves in.
“Their lives have been brutally turned upside down, they’ve lost family members, they’ve potentially lost their jobs, schools have been destroyed, hospitals have been destroyed.
“They have lost all their possessions and they are now reliant on the support of other people so whatever we can give, however small it is, is going to go a long way to helping those families.
“I am sure if we found ourselves in their position we would hope and expect that others around the globe would want to reach out to help us.”
Relief efforts have been hampered by damaged infrastructure, freezing winter temperatures and limited medical facilities.
Serve On is part of the European Association of Civil Protection Voluntary Teams, and Mr Phillips said fellow crews from across Europe had told them it was “chaos”.
He said: “They’re feeding back to us a picture of what it’s like – it sounds like the usual chaos.
“You can’t have a disaster on this scale without everything falling over and being in a mess and it takes time to unravel that.”
The Syrian volunteer organisation, White Helmets, said “time is running out” as “hundreds of families” remained trapped under the rubble.
In a tweet, they said: “We are at a critical point. Time is running out, hundreds of families are still stuck under the rubble.
“Every second means saving a life.”