Cork principal says staff and students 'safe' following earthquake in Turkey

Staff and students were travelling to their partner school in Malatya, an area affected by a large earthquake.
Cork principal says staff and students 'safe' following earthquake in Turkey

A powerful earthquake has caused significant damage in southeast Turkey and Syria and many casualties are feared. Damage was reported across several Turkish provinces, and rescue teams were being sent from around the country. (Depo Photos via AP).

The principal of Coláiste Éamann Rís in Cork city has confirmed that staff and students are all “safe” after an earthquake hit the area of Turkey they were due to travel to.

Principal Aaron Wolfe was among those travelling to their partner school in Malatya, an area affected by a large earthquake that struck south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria.

Speaking to The Echo from Istanbul, Mr Wolfe explained that staff and students stopped in Istanbul and remained there overnight.

The group of two teachers, five students, and Mr Wolfe, were originally due to travel to Malatya last night but had changed their flight to today.

Mr Wolfe said people in Malatya are now not allowed inside due to the dangerous potential of shock waves.

They were due to visit Şehit Gökhan Ertan Vocational School with whom they have an Erasmus partnership.

“One of the students involved in the exchange has said that their town has literally disappeared.

The teachers in the school have joined rescue operations. No one is allowed inside, they are all out on the streets because of shock waves.

He said the school’s thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost their lives and homes.

More than 1,300 people have been killed and hundreds are still believed to be trapped under rubble.

The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.8, was also felt in Lebanon and Cyprus, and a search and rescue mission is currently underway for survivors.

On both sides of the border, residents jolted out of sleep by the pre-dawn quake and rushed outside as buildings were flattened and strong aftershocks continued.

Rescue workers and residents in multiple cities searched for survivors, working through tangles of metal and giant piles of concrete.

The Cork staff and students remain safe in Istanbul but are now “stuck” there as their return flight which is already booked is not for another seven days.

We can’t go to our destination obviously so we are stuck. The flights home are too expensive.

“So we went out this morning haggling and have us a hotel for the eight of us for seven nights at a cost of €2,500.

“There are so many people worse off than us. It is heartbreaking to see what the other school has lost,” Mr Wolfe said.

Taking to Twitter, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said he was "shocked and saddened" to learn of the devastating earthquake and said the country's thoughts go out to all those who lost loved ones, the injured, and first responders.

"Ireland stands ready to support local and international relief efforts," he said.

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