CORONA, Queens (PIX11) — A Queens couple and their young children were among the more than 7,000 killed by an earthquake in Turkey, family members told PIX11.
Burak Firik, 35, recently left his job so he could spend more time with his family and travel. A month ago he, his 32-year old wife Kimberly and their sons, 2-year-old Hamza and 1-year old Bilal, left their home in Corona, Queens to visit Burak’s family in Elbistan, Turkey, relatives said. The Firiks were on the top floor of a five-story building when the 7.8 earthquake struck early Monday.
Salma Salazar, Kimberly’s sister, was in Corona with family. They waited for news, desperate to determine if their loved ones had survived the worst earthquake to hit the region in 100 years.
They were getting updates from Firik’s father, who was in Turkey during the quake, Salazar said. Firik’s father was in his car and watched the building collapse with his family still inside. Rescue teams clawed through the rubble of the building to help recover survivors.
About a dozen family members huddled and prayed in Salazar’s modest home on Tuesday. The concern and anxiety was clearly etched in their faces, as they started at computers for updated information. Still, there was no word about the fate of the Firiks.
Salazar talked with glowing pride about her older sister, who was a biology major at City College, and her brother-in-law, a Columbia University graduate who had worked as a software engineer for Amazon. Photos of them filled small frames sitting on counters and tables.
She shared everyone’s anxieties, but said they all shared the hope that their loved ones had survived. One member of the group kneeled and prayed in front of a photograph.
“It’s the hope that is holding up together,” Salazar said.
But the ugly hand of fate raised its hand. It wasn’t to be.
At about 1:30 p.m., family members cried out in pain and loss as they learned the Firik family had died. They tearfully embraced one another, some crying out “no, no.” Others dropped to their knees in prayer. The transformation from hope to grief was overwhelming.