"My family has lost the light of our lives, and have been grief-stricken since hearing this news."
Four members of a New York City family were among the more than 22,000 people who died in the deadly earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, according to a family member and a local Muslim advocacy group who spoke to CNN.
Salma Salazar informed the neighborhood television station WPIX that her sister Kimberly Firik, 32, her husband Burak Firik, 35, and their two sons, Hamza, 2, and Bilal, 1, had left their Corona, Queens home to visit the husband's family in the town of Elbistan in southern Turkey.
The family was in a five-story structure on the top floor when the quake hit and it collapsed. Salazar shared that they were receiving information from Firik's father, who was in Turkey at the time of the earthquake. The family awaited any updates with bated breaths as the worst earthquake hit the region. While his family was still inside the building, Firik's father was in his car and witnessed its collapse. "He basically saw his building collapse before his own eyes, and he couldn't do anything," Salazar said of her sister's father-in-law. "He spent over 12 hours digging and just finding people to help him dig because the machines weren't able to go in."
Teams of rescuers combed through the building's debris in an effort to find survivors. Although Salazar did not specify how the bodies of the family were discovered, she said, per PEOPLE, "We're all very broken in my family. Our hearts are broken."
Our city mourns the deaths of all lost in the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria, including the Firik family of Corona, Queens. They were dedicated members of the Muslim community in New York City, and our hearts go out to their loved ones and neighbors.https://t.co/qiNm4EWRl9— City of New York (@nycgov) February 9, 2023
Salazar spoke glowingly about her brother-in-law, a Columbia University graduate who had worked as an Amazon software engineer, and her older sister, a biology major at City College. "She was very graceful; she was very lovable; she was very passionate about everything she did," Salazar said. "She certainly put everybody's needs above her own. My brother-in-law was very helpful in the community."
Small picture frames in their house on counters and tables included pictures of them. Her nephews were also extremely young. "There are no words I can describe how my family is feeling, how they were taken away so soon," she said.
My dear friend loss her family. She loved her sister, her nephews, and had much respect for her brother-in-law. Her family opened a GoFundMe page, if you guys could help please do so. If you can’t, just pray that her family can get through this.https://t.co/QlatnFbtHV https://t.co/LJqx7X4OTx— 🧑🚀⟭⟬ Jackii⁷ (@JackiiUSA_ARMY) February 10, 2023
Kimberley and Salma's father Edwin Salazar started a GoFundMe page raising funds for the family in the wake of this tragedy. "I have become a heartbroken father this week in the wake of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey," Edwin wrote in a moving paragraph accompanying the fundraiser, adding, "My family has lost the light of our lives, and have been grief-stricken since hearing this news." Edwin mourned his grandchildren, adding that the deaths will "will forever impact our family." He shared, "I keep imagining that they will be coming back to our home in NY and hearing the sound of their footsteps and laughter at our breakfast table….but I know this will only be in my dreams now."
This is a developing story, and we’ll update you as we learn more. Information about the earthquake is swiftly changing, and WomenWorking is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency of developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication.
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe