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Family finds remains of 2.5-year-old quake victim buried in another city

This picture taken on January 19, 2024 in Kahramanmaraş, shows graves at Kapıçam cemetery. The disaster killed more than 50,000 people in all, becoming Turkey's deadliest in many centuries. (Photo by YASIN AKGUL / AFP)

A two-and-half-year-old child, initially believed to be missing after two powerful earthquakes hit Turkey last year, was discovered to have been mistakenly buried by another family in a city 300 kilometers from his home, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Monday.

The magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 earthquakes affected 11 provinces in the country’s south and southeast on February 6, killing close to 60,000 people in Turkey and parts of Syria and leaving millions homeless.

Part of a family of four killed by the quakes in the Elbistan district of Kahramanmaraş, Serdar Kılınç, his wife and their 5-year-old daughter Azra were buried after the earthquakes, but the body of their two-and-half-year-old daughter, Alya, could not be found

According to Gazete Duvar, Alya’s aunt, Fatma Kılınç, was informed a few days ago that her niece’s body was mistakenly taken and buried in Elazığ by th relatives of another family who lived in the same building and also died in the tragedy.

Summoned by the prosecutor after a DNA match, Kılınç said that what appeared to be “peculiar” was that the deceased child of the Elazığ family was 8 years old, while her niece was not even 3.

She added that after the confusion was cleared up, Alya’s body was exhumed from her grave in Elazığ and brought to Elbistan, where she was laid to rest near the graves of her family.

The woman said the reburial of her niece revived their pain and grief.

“We felt worse than the day my brother was buried. My other siblings haven’t been to work for three days. Reliving that moment [of burial] made us feel worse,” she said.

In the wake of an ongoing controversy about the true death toll of the 2023 earthquakes, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said earlier this month that 53,537 people in Turkey had died in the disaster, revising a previous figure of 50,783.

According to the minister, a total of 107,213 people in Turkey were injured in the earthquakes.

According to a news report by the Voice of America’s (VOA) Turkish edition last month, Turkish authorities are still unable to provide an accurate accounting of people who went missing or were disabled in the two devastating earthquakes.

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