Ghana midfielder Priscilla Okyere is terrified of going to sleep, fearful that another earthquake could occur. The 27-year-old plays for Hatayspor in southern Turkey and was a survivor of Monday’s catastrophic earthquake.
The earthquake is already regarded as the worst in a decade. Over 20,000 people have been killed so far in Turkey and Syria, with the death toll expected to grow. Okyere’s compatriots who play for Hatayspor’s men’s squad, Christian Atsu and Taner Savut, the club’s sporting director, are still missing.
In an interview with the BBC, Okyere said, “I have not been sleeping for four days – I’m so scared to go to sleep.” She added, “Even today, we had a safe place to sleep. I haven’t closed my eyes from 5am till now.
“When someone bangs the door, I wake up because I’m scared. I don’t want to close my eyes and realise this thing is happening again.”
“I was terrified. I cried for days,” she explained.
She continued, “I can’t imagine how lucky we were to get out from that situation, because most people couldn’t get out. But we were able to.”
Okyere is now in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, after her coach arranged for her and her seven roommates to flee Hatay following the earthquake.
Okyere joined Hatayspor from Israeli club Tel-Aviv Beersheva six months ago. The club’s players, like most residents in southern Turkey, had previously experienced tremors. So when the earthquake struck early Monday morning, she assumed it was normal.
“When it happened, I thought it was a normal thing but I realised this was much more intense than the previous ones.”
She went to check on her teammates, then dashed outside as everything around her began to collapse. The building Okyere and her teammates lived in had not collapsed, although severely damaged. But they had to leave the area, and with no public transportation available, they explored the streets in search of meal.
They were instantly anxious that there was no way to contact their families back home, even as news of the quake began to spread over the world.
“…we couldn’t communicate directly to our family because all the networks were not working. “But you could call within Turkey, So I spoke to my agent, and I gave him my mother’s number so he could to talk with her and make sure that everything is okay.”
While she and her teammates eventually departed Hatay unharmed, she expressed concern for other Hatayspor club members, particularly the men’s squad and authorities.
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