Turkish American Society of Chicago Holds Vigil for Earthquake Victims

A suburban man says he has lost at least 100 family members in the earthquake

Adem Altan | AFP | Getty Images

More than 20,000 people have been confirmed dead after a devastating earthquake struck parts of Turkey and Syria, and local residents gathered to mourn those lost, and to push for action to help those that survived.

The Turkish-American Society of Chicago held an emotional vigil on Thursday to pay tribute to the victims of the earthquake, with dozens gathering to pay their respects.

One of the mourners was Hoffman Estates resident Mehmet Deniz, who says that he's lost dozens of family members in the quake.

"Besides praying, there is nothing we can do," he said.

Deniz told NBC 5 that it pains him that he can’t go to visit his few surviving family members in the devastated country.

"Mehmet has a 90-year-old grandma, who’s also outside," a translator said. "The weather is pretty cold, and a lot of people have been sleeping outside without shelter. Some are sleeping in their cars, using car batteries to charge their cell phones to communicate"

Mourners gathered together Thursday to pray, but also to help heal and to raise money and collections to send to Southern Turkey and Northern Syria, where  limited access to food and medical supplies make the need for humanitarian aid more urgent.

TASC says it is halfway to its $1 million goal for earthquake relief. If you'd like to donate you can go to the group's website at

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