BC woman loses 28 family members in earthquakes in Turkey and Syria

Cheryl Forrest looking at family photos from her time in Turkey.  (Corey Bullock/CBC - photo credit)

Cheryl Forrest looking at family photos from her time in Turkey. (Corey Bullock/CBC – photo credit)

A BC family mourns after the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria a week ago.

Cheryl Forrest, 57, of Rossland, BC, lost 28 family members in the destruction, including her estranged husband and father of their three children, Midrap Tas.

The family members were in a nine-story apartment building in Adiyaman, Turkey, where members of her family had their own suites.

The building collapsed during the earthquake.

“It’s really hard to be here. Being distant,” said Forrest, who has maintained a strong bond with her in-laws despite being estranged from her husband for the past five years.

“I am deaf impaired.”

On February 6, two earthquakes measuring 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude shook parts of southeastern Turkey and northern Syria.

The death toll has risen to more than 33,000 and more than 24,000 buildings in Turkey have either collapsed or been badly damaged. Meanwhile, volunteers and officials continue the desperate search for survivors among the rubble.

Corey Bullock/CBC

Corey Bullock/CBC

In Adiyaman, a strong sense of family

Forrest met Tas when they both lived in Vancouver. After getting married and having two children, the young family moved to Adiyaman, where Forrest worked as an English teacher.

They also welcomed their third child in Adiyaman.

“I couldn’t walk down the street without saying hello to people. It’s like I feel like I know everyone, and everyone knew me,” Forrest said.

She says she fondly remembers the weekends she spent in a nearby village, where dozens of family members came together to eat, celebrate and have fun.

“Life there revolves around family,” she said.



In the week since the earthquake, her family has faced unimaginable grief. She says they stick to social media for updates and constantly check with relatives in Turkey.

“I don’t think either of us will ever get over it. Well, we’re gonna wear this for life. my children are strong They were able to talk to one of their cousins ​​who lost his mother, father and sister, and he endured and was strong. That gave my children strength.”

Tas’ body was removed from the building last week and a memorial service was held. Forrest and her children virtually joined.

Now the family plans to return to Turkey this summer to mourn the loss of their father and extended family with the bereaved.


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