Delray Beach tennis player survives earthquakes in Turkey

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 6:20 PM EST
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A Delray Beach tennis player has survived two earthquakes in Turkey, and she’s now trying to get back home to the United States.

Gayal Black said her daughter, "Hurricane Tyra Black," is now trying to find her way home to Delray Beach.

Rescuers continue to scramble for survivors under collapsed buildings in Turkey and Syria. The death toll stands at 7,500 as of Tuesday afternoon, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in a century.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake was followed by a 7.5 magnitude quake hours later, each with multiple aftershocks. Tens of thousands of people were hurt.

"Hurricane Tyra Black," from Delray Beach, has been playing in a tennis tournament in southern Turkey. Her mother, Gayal, had turned on the news at 3 a.m. when she couldn't sleep and saw the update about the earthquakes.

"It took me two hours – over two hours to get her to answer. I was so scared, so scared," Gayal Black said, "because then you didn’t know if there was rubble around them, you had no idea."

Relief will wash over her daughter returns home.

"I don’t think I’ll let her go when she gets in my arms. I’ll be so happy," Gayal Black said.

While Gayal Black had lived in California and endured multiple earthquakes, her daughter had never had the experience.

"She didn’t feel it, because it was the middle of the night, but at lunchtime then, they had got them all out of their rooms and were all sitting in the restaurant," Gayal Black said. "Sure enough, the 7.5 came, and she had never been in earthquake, so everybody just started running out of the building. And she said, 'I just followed them.'"

Gayal Black said her daughter is fortunate to stay in a building with newer construction, but she's anxious to get home. She's keeping her passport nearby in case she has to run from the building at any time.

There are hundreds of other tennis players from all over the world in the same area. Now that the tennis tournament has been canceled, they are all looking for a way back to Istanbul's airport, so they can fly to their home countries.

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