A British Columbia woman who lost nearly a dozen family members in the devastating earthquake in Turkey has returned to Vancouver after a trip to her hometown and said the region is still in desperate need of help.

Nural Sumbultepe lost 10 relatives in the earthquake, including six immediate family members.

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“Sex very close to my heart that I see all the time when I go home and that I communicate with almost every week from Canada,” she said.

“Who shall I mourn today? Every day I think of one of them in detail.”

Sumbultepe returned to Canada from the town of Iskenderun, which was devastated by the disaster, on Wednesday.

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Grieving BC woman works to rebuild hometown after devastating earthquake in Turkey

While in Turkey, she toured the devastation, visited military sites and provided as much help as she could to her family and anyone else she could help.

“I literally collapsed – my legs couldn’t hold me – when I saw the destruction,” she said, adding that she was on the ground for another terrifying earthquake while in the country.

“I had to visit many graves, as you can imagine, and I supported my sister who lost very close family members and my niece who needed help with her two children … I visited many of what we call tent cities, where people lived in containers and tents.”

As the death toll in Turkey and Syria exceeds 50,000, the monumental tragedy is becoming a growing humanitarian crisis. Calls for international help continue amid accusations of negligence and corruption against both countries’ governments.

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Sumbultepe said the trip to Turkey left her with many concerns about the situation on the ground.

Efforts to get aid such as shelter and water to survivors have been slow, she said, and many people have been left without critical basics. The military has been slow to respond, and there is a lack of transparency on the billions of dollars raised for aid, she said.

“I still don’t understand why people are still homeless, why they still don’t have shelter and clean water and tents,” she said.

“What the world doesn’t know is some people were saved, they froze to death.”

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Sumbultepe said there is growing anger over the government’s apparent failure to enforce earthquake safety codes implemented after the deadly 1999 Istanbul earthquake.

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In Iskenderun, fatal building collapses occurred in six neighborhoods where she said construction should never have been allowed in the first place.

The 15-story building her sister-in-law lived and died in also appears to have been built too tall for its location, contrary to code.

With an election scheduled for this spring, she said the government appears to be rushing to rebuild, without consulting seismologists, urban planners and local leaders, raising concerns about a repeat of the disaster in the future.

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Sumbultepe said she is deeply grateful for the financial support her fellow British Columbians have given to those affected by the tragedy.

But she said there is much more Canada can do to help.

“I would really like to see Canada keep that promise … to rebuild and repair,” she said.

“And I would encourage the Canadian government to talk to the Turkish government about careful planning.”

Back in Vancouver, Sumbultepe said she is still afflicted with grief when she finds herself alone. But she is already planning her next trip, hoping to return to support her family within weeks.

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