Local man from Syria awaits word from relatives affected by earthquake

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — More than 9,500 bodies have been recovered so far from the rubble of collapsed buildings since the deadly earthquakes hit both Turkey and Syria.

News10NBC talked to one man who just moved to the Rochester area from Syria. He’s still waiting to hear from some family members who have been missing since early Monday morning.

Maher Younus left his homeland 10 years ago, first fleeing to Iraq as a refugee. Just six months ago he was resettled here in Rochester for a better life. Now his life has been turned upside down by the earthquake that destroyed his family’s home in the Syrian city of Jindires.

RELATED: Turkish Society of Rochester to provide relief for earthquake-damaged homeland

“She said like we woke up on an earthquake. I don’t know anything about my family. I don’t know where is my dad. We’re all under like the rubble, and when I find out any information I’ll let you know.”

A niece of Maher Younus left him that message on his cell phone Monday morning minutes after the first earthquake hit both Turkey and Syria. Since then he’s been going through an agonizing wait for news about his missing brother Yaseen, who lives in the Syrian city of Jindires. Younus spoke to News10NBC through his interpreter about that wait.

“He loses connection with them, and he says like maybe it’s better to lose the connection and never get any news because no news is good news so far,” said the interpreter.

Younus’s brother has a wife and seven children, including a son that was born just hours before disaster struck. As far the only other news he’s received has been sad news.

“Two of his nieces had passed away. They got news about them,” said the interpreter. He continued, “The whole family was missing. You know his wife, the other kids were rescued, but two young girls, they didn’t rescue them.”

While others are glued to their TV for all the latest updates, Maher prefers not to watch any of the Syrian rescue and recovery operations.

“He’s been two days now not sleeping well just because he’s thinking about his brother being under the rubble and not having any help to get him,” said the interpreter.

Younus, like so many others, is asking for help.

His interpreter said, “If you can send clothes or anything. Like these people have nothing. They’re just like humans. They want to live their life, and if you know like any organization that you know can get the aid as quickly as possible that would be like most helpful.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced Tuesday that donations can be dropped off at the County Office Building and all county Department of Motor Vehicles locations. You can find the GoFundMe to donate to earthquake relief efforts here.