The body of a Canadian woman who was visiting Turkey has been found in the rubble of a building that collapsed on Feb. 6. during the earthquake that has devastated that country.
Saad Zora says his twin sister, Samar, who like her brothers is from Halifax, was found Tuesday by searchers as an excavator dug through pieces of a five-storey building in the city of Antakya.
“Samar was found,” he said in an interview from Antakya, an ancient city near Syria’s northern border. “She didn’t make it.”
Zora says he and his brother, Muthana, who flew to Turkey last week to search for their sister, had remained near the scene of the excavation of the building. He said he is grateful to the local people and the search and rescue teams who assisted in finding the 33-year-old woman.
“We were on-site watching the entire time,” Zora said, adding that the building owner was able to assist in the excavation by pointing out certain pieces of furniture that were associated with particular floors of the structure.
Zora said he and his siblings are planning to donate proceeds from an online fundraiser in memory of his sister to help other victims of the earthquake in Turkey’s hard-hit Hatay province.
The magnitude 7.8 quake and powerful aftershocks toppled or damaged tens of thousands of buildings, destroyed roads and closed airports for a time. The quake affected 10 provinces in Turkey that are home to some 13.5 million people, as well as a large area in northwest Syria that is home to millions. The death toll has eclipsed 35,500, with nearly 32,000 of those in Turkey.
Samar Zora had travelled to Antakya, once known as Antioch, for her doctoral research in anthropology. She hadn’t been there long before the tremors hit.
Her brother said his twin sister was “two minutes younger than me.”
“It always felt like she was the younger sister, but I’ve recently come to learn she was the old soul — the old, wise sibling — who would give me advice, especially during the tough times,” he said.
“What I remember the most was her laugh. She loved to laugh and really had a strong appreciation for culture and especially Middle Eastern culture, and that started to exponentially grow during her studies,” he said.
“She was full of life and (was) a very sweet, good-hearted person.”
Jérémie Bérubé, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada said that to date, it has “received approximately 80 inquiries from Canadians related to these earthquakes.”
Bérubé said there are about 7,557 Canadians who have registered in a government database that they are living in Turkey, as well as 1,390 who registered as living in Syria.
He said the department wished to extend its condolences to the family and friends of “the Canadian citizen who passed away in Turkey.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2023.