THE principal of the Cork city secondary school who is part of a group of eight school representatives currently in Turkey has admitted they were so ‘lucky’ to avoid the earthquake that hit the area of Turkey they were due to travel to on Sunday evening.
The group which includes the principal of Coláiste Éamann Rís Aaron Wolfe, deputy principal Edel Farrell, Erasmus co-ordinator Sean Buckley, and five third-year students, were originally due to travel to Malatya on Sunday night but had changed their flight to Monday.
Mr Wolfe was among those travelling to the school’s partner school in Malatya, an area affected by a large earthquake.
Speaking to The Echo from Istanbul, Mr Wolfe said they only changed their flight plans last week. “We arrived in Turkey at 6pm on Sunday night. We were meant to be flying to Malatya at 11pm that night, but a couple of days before we changed our plans to give ourselves plenty of time and decided to fly on Monday morning instead. Thank God we did because if we got on that flight we would have been done for. Malatya has been wiped out. It has disappeared. It is dreadful and absolutely frightening,” he said.
The secondary school principal said they would stay in Istanbul until next Monday. “Our plan will remain the same. We will come home next Monday. It would have been more expensive to book new flights and leave than it was to book a hotel. Life is normal in Istanbul. Life goes on. It is business as usual. There are currently snow storms in Istanbul. We had no power on Monday night.”
“We were lucky not to get on that flight on Sunday night. We were all in shock yesterday. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”
The US Geological Survey said the tremor struck Turkey at 4.17am local time at a depth of 17.9km near the city of Gaziantep, with seismologists describing the quake as one of the largest ever recorded in Turkey.
Twelve hours later, a second quake, which had a magnitude of 7.5, hit Turkey’s Elbistan district of Kahramanmaras province.
As of Tuesday evening, the death toll from the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria has surpassed 5,000 people.