Heartbroken father of Isais Hotel earthquake victim shares daughter’s Workers Day message

A father of one of the Turkish Cypriot school victims of the Turkish earthquake has shared a heart-breaking note from his daughter, sent to him on May Day seven years ago.

Enver Karakaya posted Selin Karakaya’s International Workers Day message to him on 1 May 2016, when she would have been just seven years old.

At the time father Enver said he didn’t know whether to “laugh or cry” at the sweet message penned to him by his daughter.

Selin’s handwritten note in Turkish has drawings of lots of hearts, including a large one containing her and her father’s names, ‘Enver’ and ‘Selin’. She wrote:

“My dearest father, I love you very much. Happy 1st of May. When you are working you get really tired trying to earn money for us.

“ I really thank you xxxxxxxx”

Teenager Selin Karakaya was a star pupil at Gazimağusa Türk Maarif Koleji, in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.

The 14-year-old had travelled to Adıyaman with her school for a volleyball tournament when tragedy struck in the early hours of the morning on 6 February 2023.

The Turkish Cypriot school party was staying at Isias Hotel in Adıyaman, southeast Turkiye, but the poorly constructed 10-storey building crumbled in the wake of the powerful 7.8 tremor, trapping an estimated 100 guests.

Only four members from the school party survived, while 35 others, including Selin, perished under the rubble.

Selin’s parents, Enver and Ruşen Karakaya, along with relatives of the other pupils and teachers killed at Isias Hotel, have called for the hotel owners and officials who passed the accommodation as safe to be prosecuted for what they have described as a “massacre” [‘katliam’].

Hotel owner Ahmet Bozkurt, his son Efe Bozkurt, and four others were arrested in February.

Since the earthquake, the bereaved parents at have been sharing memories of their children as a means of coping with their grief, as well as keeping pressure on the Turkish authorities by keeping the Isias Hotel deaths in the public eye.