Sydney man confirmed dead in Turkey after devastating earthquakes

<span>Photograph: Facebook</span>
Photograph: Facebook

A Sydney man has died in Turkey after devastating earthquakes in the country, making him the first confirmed Australian death in the disaster.

Can Pahali’s body was found among the rubble after members of his family flew to Turkey from Australia to help search for him, Australian Associated Press reported. Pahali’s nephew, Ilyas Pahali, told the Guardian he was heading to the Turkish capital, Ankara, to “try and dig out his body”.

More than 15,000 people have been confirmed dead in Turkey and Syria after devastating 7.8- and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes hit within hours of each other on Monday. It was confirmed on Wednesday that four Australians were unaccounted for following the disaster.

Related: ‘Complete helplessness’: families in Australia wait for news of loved ones after Turkey earthquake

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, told parliament he was deeply saddened to hear an Australian had “tragically” lost their life.

“Our thoughts [are] with all those who have loved ones back in Turkey, Syria and in the region and our hope is good news presents itself,” he said.

Melbourne man Suat Bayram has been missing in Hatay province, in Turkey’s south, since Monday’s huge earthquakes, and his daughter said a body had been found that resembled her father but there was no one available to identify him.

“I contacted [the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] as soon as we found out my dad was in the area, and I have been providing them with as much information as we can, and Dfat told us they are reliant on what the embassy in Ankara tells them,” Suat’s daughter, Imren Bayram, said.

“Phone lines are down, no one is on the ground. They have essentially told us they can’t help us.”

Imren said she knew the building her father was staying in had collapsed, and that some bodies were removed from the building and taken to the local hospital, but the lack of communication meant she didn’t know anything more.

“It feels like waves of emotion and grief are hitting me. And I’m sitting with a lot of anger because there isn’t much we can do.

“I am asking the government, please send troops to the exact locations of the Australian citizens and support and rescue them.

“This is my plea. They know where they are, they know where my father was staying. We were told that the health and safety of Australian citizen is paramount. But there are no troops heading to find my father – there isn’t even Turkish government assistance there.”

Related: Turkey and Syria earthquake: four Australians missing following disaster

Imren’s brother-in-law is planning to head to Hatay in an attempt to locate Suat.

A Dfat spokesperson said it was “supporting around 50 other Australians and their families who were in the earthquake area and have asked for support with crisis accommodation, short-term loans and travel documents”.

“Australian diplomatic missions in Ankara, Istanbul and Beirut are doing all they can in difficult circumstances to reach out to Australians reported to be in the area.”

Albanese announced on Wednesday that a team of 72 defence force personnel would be on the ground by the end of the week, to assist local authorities.

Online, tributes have been paid to Pahali, also known as John, who was an active community member in Sydney’s inner-western suburb of Glebe.

“A sad update. In recent hours John [Can Pahali]’s body has been recovered from earthquake rubble in Turkiye,” a social media post said.

“He has had a wonderful six months reuniting with his large family in different areas of his country … We shall miss you so much.”

With Australian Associated Press