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'Time is ticking' | Local families urge Atlantans to aid earthquake victims in Turkey, Syria

The death toll from two powerful earthquakes is now above 7,000 and is expected to rise after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the countries Monday.

ATLANTA — The death toll from two powerful earthquakes in Turkey and Syria is now above 7,000 and expected to rise. People in Atlanta are now urging others to aid in relief efforts.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the countries Monday just after 4 a.m., followed by another 7.5 magnitude quake. It's now a race against time to find survivors.

The owner of Ali Baba Mediterranean in downtown Atlanta, says he feels helpless seeing videos of his home country, Turkey.

"I was just watching but it's so hard I'm crying all the time," Fevzi Karabulut said. "It's just definitely really sad. It's really catastrophic. Unfortunately, so many people died but still, people are inside the buildings and they're trying to help them come out." 

RELATED: Yes, the country Turkey has changed its name to Türkiye

While Karabulut's family was not hurt, he says he has friends whose families were not so fortunate.

"He just posted his morning that his cousin and kids died – four or five of them," he said, referring to his Turkish friend who also lives in Atlanta.

The death toll continues to soar. That's why Muzo Saritas, owner of the Turkish restaurant, Truva, urges people to donate however they can.

"Time is very important," he said. "Think of somebody breathing underneath and looking for help. To get them help, time is ticking. I would say, don't wait, don't think."

Saritas says that in addition to monetary donations, a lot of items for cold weather, like tents and coats, are needed.

"It's the coldest month of the year," he said. "It's like -12 Celsius - we're talking 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Those images that we look at it's unbearable. Not much we can do from here, all the roads are completely diminished. So not much we can do here other than donate."

Saritas says a trusted website that he recommends people donate to is www.ahbap.org.

As for the cold-weather items, he says those will be shipped to Turkey through a Turkish airline. 

If you have items you would be able to drop off, head to this location by Feb.19: 5201 Brook Hollow Parkway, Street C, Norcross, Georgia 30071.

They will only be accepting monetary donations after that date. 

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