Christchurch earthquake: Student's Turkish family cling to hope

By Jared Savage

Didem Yaman, 31, was to have completed her PhD at the University of Otago this year. Photo / Supplied
Didem Yaman, 31, was to have completed her PhD at the University of Otago this year. Photo / Supplied

Didem Yaman loved New Zealand and travelling to different parts of the country.

The Otago University student was on a short trip to see her friend Sisi Xin in Christchurch. The pair were last seen by a neighbour who thought they were heading to the city centre a few hours before the quake struck.

Missing people advertisements with smiling photos of each have appeared in the local newspaper as their families cling to hope.

Ms Yaman, 31, came to New Zealand to study 3 years ago and became close to Gamze O'Neill, a fellow Turk in Dunedin.

Mrs O'Neill said her friend was six months away from completing her PhD in politics.

"She is very bright, very clever. She is beautiful, her heart is so beautiful ...

she was just visiting Christchurch for a few days ... and look what happens.

"She is great. She loves to travel and visit different parts of New Zealand. She just loves New Zealand and meeting up with her friends for coffee.

"She was always there when you needed her, it doesn't matter what time of night, she's so amazing."

Mrs O'Neill had been in contact with Ms Yaman's family in the Turkish town of Tanakale, who were all praying for her safe return.

"The Government and the rescue teams are doing such an amazing job, they are hoping to hear some good news soon.

"We have heard nothing at all. But we are waiting expectantly to hear she is still alive.

"We have not given up hope."

The Chinese Embassy placed a missing persons advertisement for Ms Xin and Ms Yaman yesterday.

There was no sign of anyone at the Patten St address except for a note on the front door.

"Sisi, you have been reported as a missing person by your friend. Please call Papanui police station to let us know you're okay."

- NZ Herald

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