In Istanbul, Turks light candles to mourn earthquake victims in the south

By Ezgi Erkoyun

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Eren Can was silent as he lit a candle and placed it on the windowsill in his home in central Istanbul to mourn the victims of the earthquakes that struck Turkey's south last month, including his own parents.

After coming back from the southern city of Antakya, where he and his relatives searched through the rubble of his childhood home, Can decided to start a candle-lighting initiative via posts on social media, seeking to commemorate the deaths of the more than 46,000 people who died in Turkey.

"There is no way that I can describe or nothing that can relieve my pain, but we thought that the growth of such a movement would at least turn into something that we as a society can use to heal our wounds, relieve our pain together and evolve our common grief into a better future," Can said.

"The candle is a metaphor here, a symbol of the transition from darkness to light. I think we need this as a country," Can added.

In a nearby park in Istanbul's Kadikoy district, some 100 people, including many of Can's friends and acquaintances, gathered and lit candles in a silent vigil, placing cards on the floor with the names of 11 cities impacted by the earthquakes.

Nevruz Tugce Ozcelik, a participant at the vigil, said no-one had been able to grieve properly due to the urgency of the rescue efforts, aid distribution, constant aftershocks and millions of people left homeless.

Ozcelik, a 34-year-old search and rescue volunteer who helped teams look for survivors in the provinces of Gaziantep and Hatay, said the idea was simply to keep people's memories alive.

"This grief will be our historical legacy. After February 6th, none of us will be able to continue our lives as before," she said.

"So we are here to keep their memory alive. We are doing a silent act of mourning. We want to share our common grief."

(Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Hugh Lawson)