ISTANBUL (Lraper)–The courtyard front of the Armenian Patriarchate in Kumkapi–Istanbul–continued to serve as a shelter for the homeless–following Tuesday’s 7.4 earthquake–which claimed the lives of an estimate 7,400 and left 24,000 injured in Istanbul. Damage to Armenian structures in Istanbul is being estimated at $1.2 million.
Hundreds of people spending the night at Armenian Patriarchal Church of the Holy Mother-of-God–have preferred to sleep outside–for fear of aftershocks and further damage to the church.
The threat of disease and epidemics has grown–since there is a lack of water and sanitation.
Father Zacheos Ohanyan–a young priest–served in a volunteer team of 15 youths from the Armenian community of Istanbul who were in Cinarcik–a resort town not far from the epicenter of the earthquake. Until Thursday noon–he said–no public officials were yet available in the town to offer relief to the victims of the earthquake.
The Holy Savior Armenian Hospital in Yedikule worked full capacity Wednesday and Thursday–treating specially hundreds of victims injured by the quakes in Avcilar and Zeytinburnu.
An estimated four to five thousand Armenian community members are in the Cinarcik district. A Protestant church has turned its summer camp there into a public kitchen providing food for thousands – without discrimination.
Patriarch Mesrob invited an ecumenical meeting this afternoon which convened in the Armenian Patriarchate. Representatives of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate–the Syrian Orthodox–Roman Catholic–German Evangelical–Anglican–Armenian Catholic–Syrian Catholic–Chaldean Catholic communities–the Union Church of Istanbul–the Bible Society and the American Board who attended were a little apprehensive when informed of the static deformation on the third floor of the 86-year-old wooden structure. Following a two-hour consultation–the Churches of Turkey Disaster Relief Steering Committee was born with the blessing of the Greek and Armenian Patriarchs. All churches were asked to channel their emergency relief efforts through this committee–the secretarial offices of which will be based at the American Board.
The Armenian Patriarchate contributed $7000 from its scarce resources for goods to a relief effort organized by the Governor’s Office–providing food and medicine to the victims in the disaster zone. The over all material damages to the patriarchal headquarters–the hospital and nine churches in Istanbul are estimated at $1.2 million. However–at this phase–the Patriarch said–the priority was the security and welfare of the people.
Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian of the Western Diocese–Bishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Western Prelacy–Arch. Khajag Barsamian of the Eastern Diocese–Bishop Oshagan Choloyan of the Eastern US and Canada Prelacy joined Rev. Movses Janbazian of the Armenian Missionary Association of America–Archbishop Aghan Baliozan of Sydney in expressing their condolences and offering assistance from their respective parishioners.