Head of southern Turkish Jewish community and his wife found dead

ZAKA confirms that Saul Cenudioglu and his wife Fortuna have been found dead in the ruins of their home Thursday, days after series of devastating earthquakes.

By World Israel News Staff

The leader of Jewish community in southern Turkey was found dead Thursday afternoon, along with his wife, as search and rescue teams continue to comb the ruins of buildings destroyed in this week’s earthquake for survivors.

Saul Cenudioglu and his wife, Fortuna, were declared missing on Tuesday, amid fears they had been buried in the rubble of their home, which collapsed during the first in a series of massive earthquakes early Monday morning.

Cenudioglu had been the leader of the tiny Jewish community in Antakya in southern Turkey, close to the epicenter of Monday’s earthquake.

The ZAKA organization, which has been working in the area as part of the civilian Israeli rescue efforts, said in a statement Thursday afternoon that the remains of Saul and Fortuna Cenudioglu had been recovered from the ruins of their home.

“The rescuers worked intensively with dedication and in difficult conditions for many hours, until the two were found. Unfortunately, they were found dead,” ZAKA said.

Ankara has declared a state of emergency and is in the middle of an official week of mourning following the massive earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale and its severe aftershocks that hit Turkey’s south and Syria’s north early Monday morning. Over 17,500 are confirmed dead in the two countries, with over 66,000 injured.

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Turkish-Israeli Rabbi Mendy Chitrik said that while Fortuna’s remains had been positively identified, the identity of the second body recovered from the Cenudioglu home had not yet been confirmed.

“There was a mistake in the identification of Saul,” he told The Jerusalem Post.

Israeli search and rescue teams operating in Turkey have rescued ten survivors thus far, the IDF announced Thursday.

The large “Olive Branches” delegation has been working around the clock, knowing that it has only a few days at most to find living people rather than dead bodies due to the intense cold and medical conditions of anyone trapped under flattened buildings.

Captain (res.) Alon Hominer told Walla News Thursday morning that his group had just successfully freed a toddler from the wreckage.

“A short while ago, we completed the rescue of a small child about two years of age, it took several hours,” he said. “We received a report from the Turks that they had heard a baby’s cries and joined the mission to fully cooperate with them. The rescue entailed a great deal of medical and engineering efforts. The baby is currently healthy and whole and on his way to the hospital.”