LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Right now, people in Turkey and Syria are being pulled from the rubble of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake earlier this week.

What You Need To Know

  • The  earthquake and a cascade of strong aftershocks caused damage that stretched hundreds of miles across southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria

  • Inci Wiley says she has friends who are still buried under the rubble

  • She also says she has lost some friends

  • Wiley urges donations to impacted people. She says anything helps

More than 20-thousand people have died and countless more injured.

Inci Wiley is from Turkey. She’s from the southernmost point of the country on the Mediterranean Sea. She said her childhood there was fantastic. Before she came to the U.S., she lived in Moscow, Russia.

She said she graduated from college at 18 but wanted to learn more.

She came to the U.S. 30 years ago, in 1992. She chose the University of Louisville for school and came on a full scholarship.

She’s made her family here in Kentucky and loves it. She works as an adjunct professor now and is a wife and mother.

She very fondly remembers her life in Turkey.

“It was like heaven. It was by the Mediterranean Sea. Beach life and mountains and great schools. They’re all public schools, so we had a great education. The most important was the friendships that we built back in the day.” Wiley explained.

Wiley cherishes and regularly maintains those childhood friendships to this day. She was at home when she got news of the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck her hometown province just days ago.

Her friend in Turkey told her what happened. She immediately tried to contact all of her friends in Turkey but feels “absolutely helpless.”

“It’s like I feel terrible for the people who are gone,” she said.

Her family is safe and physically okay. But she still has not heard from some of her friends in Turkey.

“Some of my friends are still buried under the rubble,” Wiley said. “Obviously, it’s been now over 100 hours. So, I don’t think they will make it.”

People she knows have died.

“I lost a few friends, unfortunately. Their lifeless bodies were pulled out of the rubble.” Wiley explained. “I lost two of my teachers from my childhood. They were still in touch with me on Facebook. They’re gone. The worst, one of my good friends kids didn’t come out alive. So, two kids. They had two kids. Those are my personal losses.”

“They, my friends who live there, lost almost everyone in their family,” she added.

Wiley gets real-time updates from her surviving friends who are on the ground in Turkey, as the massive recovery and clean up continues. She is in a goup chat with her surviving friends who are in Turkey. Inside that group chat Wiley scrolled through many messages written in Turkish.

Wiley translated some of the messages. She said the messages say things like “Where is the burial?” and “What address are the burying their lost ones?”

Wiley also shared videos of devastation her friends sent her from Turkey. One of the videos from her friends was taken from a vantage point that appears to be on one side of a river in the city of Antakya  according to Wiley.

The video shows widespread devastation and destruction. In the video, you can see collasped buildings, as well as buildings that are badly damaged. The video then pans across the river to show a much closer look at even more destruction. At this point in the video, you can see what looks like more buildings collapsed into the street as people walk by.

“My friends were telling me that people need food and water.” Wiley said. “The basic needs.”

As rescuers search the rubble for survivors among collapsed buildings, Wiley says people in Turkey need help right now.

She said people need food, water, blankets, coats, socks and money donations. 

“We need humanitarian aid ASAP, as soon as possible, because people are left in the cold with nothing on. No families, no shelter, no food, no running water,” Wiley said.

She hopes Kentuckians donate to the Turkish people impacted and says anything helps. 

Wiley encourages people to donate to the Red Cross or Red Crescent and U.N. She said embassies and UNICEF are also accepting donations. 

Ways to Donate to Turkey and Syria Earthquake relief efforts

American Red Cross

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 

Charity Navigator

Charity Watch

World Food Program USA


Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C.