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Strahil Popov from Istanbul: The situation in Hatay is really tragic

Strahil Popov (left) playing for Hatayspor
Photo: Archive

Ümraniyespor defender Strahil Popov is one of the two Bulgarian footballers who play in the Turkish football championship. Until December 2021, he was part of the Hatayspor team based in the city of Antakya, Hatay province. The Hatay province has been the hardest hit by the devastating earthquake that rocked Turkey yesterday. The victims so far reportedly exceed 5,000.

The Bulgarian footballer tells the Bulgarian news agency BTA how he feels and what people in the country are going through.

"I'm fine, I live in Istanbul. Everything is normal here, but in Hatay it's a real tragedy. I personally have never seen and never imagined such a tragedy. I don't know if other people have seen such a thing," admitted Strahil Popov.

"I played for two years in Hatayspor, so I have a lot of acquaintances and friends there. Fortunately, none of my friends there, teammates, relatives and acquaintances have been injured. I talked a lot with the translator of the team, with whom I am in contact. He told me that his apartment is unusable - walls, floor - everything has huge cracks," adds the 32-year-old footballer.

According the media reports, the city of Antakya has been almost half destroyed. The Bulgarian footballer with the most serious experience in the Turkish championship adds: 

"There are two big problems. The first is that there are not enough rescuers and there are not enough teams to pull people out from the rubble. The territory is huge, and the number of rescuers is insufficient. The second problem is that only one of the hospitals in the city remained unharmed and is working at full capacity. The rest of the medical facilities are either unable to receive people, or they work with extremely limited options. This makes the situation downright tragic for such a large city and region. A real apocalypse, a great disaster."

Residents in the Hatay province warm themselves by an open fire. The region is among the most hard hit areas in the devastating earthquake.
"I'm sure there will be charity campaigns to help the victims, but essential goods are still being sought. Aid will be collected, there is no doubt", Popov said.
Yesterday's matches from the Turkish football championship were cancelled, including Ümraniyespor with Strahil Popov against Adana Demirspor.

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