SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Members of Turkish organizations based in the Bay Area went to bed Sunday night with a feeling of panic, knowing their families and friends overseas were experiencing the worst-case scenario.
Across Turkey and surrounding areas, hundreds of buildings flattened and thousands are feared dead after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
"My immediate family is OK, but everyone knows someone who they haven't heard from or they know of someone's family missing. So these are the times when we all need to be together, help each other and do as much as we can," Basak Altan, co-founder of the Bay Area Turkish Society said.
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"A lot of the buildings that have been leveled are new buildings, government buildings, these are buildings that are municipality buildings, hospitals that have been built," Altan said. "People are getting into cars trying to find family members, they can't access them because the roads are damaged."
Meanwhile, Turkish radio program producer Ahmet Toprak, based out of San Jose, says he believes the widespread damage is from buildings not being built up to code.
"Buildings are usually tall these days, condominium buildings are 10 to 15 stories tall and some of them are unfortunately not made to the code, built to the code and so they collapsed right away, pancaked," Toprak said.
And Toprak says that despite repeated warnings from experts that a large earthquake was in Turkey's future, calls for action were ignored.
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"The builders are probably the most to blame, the shoddy construction, they make sure that it looks nice so they can sell the condominiums, but the structural integrity is not there in most cases," he said.
A spokesperson for the American Red Cross in Northern California says the Turkish and Syrian Red Crescent teams are on the ground providing aid in some of the hardest hit areas, supporting through first aid, medical evacuations, food, lifesaving blood and psychosocial support.
"The global Red Cross and Red Crescent network urge people to remain alert to possible aftershocks, as there are unstable structures from the earthquake - and may be in jeopardy of collapsing. The global Red Cross and Red Crescent network remain in close contact with the Turkish and Syrian Red Crescent to support ongoing relief needs," Jenny Arrieta, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross said.
Arrieta added that the American Red Cross hadn't received any blood product requests for Turkey or Syria as of Monday morning, so they are not collecting blood donations in the U.S. to go to those affected areas at this time, but the nonprofit is standing by to offer support.
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