Asia mobilises to help save lives, bring aid to victims of massive quake in Turkey, Syria

Governments in the region have started sending search-and-rescue teams, as well as relief aid, as the death toll soared past 5,000.

Raul Dancel

Raul Dancel

The Straits Times


A team from South Korea prepares to leave for Turkey to help in rescue efforts there, as the death toll nears 5,000. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

February 8, 2023

SINGAPORE – Asia has begun mobilising to help tens of thousands killed or injured and many more left homeless by a massive earthquake and deadly aftershocks that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday.

Governments in the region have started sending search-and-rescue teams, as well as relief aid, as the death toll soared past 5,000 and was likely to end up far higher, with rescuers digging through mountains of rubble and debris in freezing temperatures.

Singapore said on Tuesday it is sending a 20-man team to Turkey. The Operation Lionheart contingent from the Singapore Civil Defence Force consists of officers from the elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team, paramedics and a doctor.

The Singapore Red Cross, meanwhile, pledged US$100,000 (S$132,600) in humanitarian aid, with each of its sister organisations – the Turkish Red Crescent and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent – set to receive US$50,000.

Malaysia on Monday sent 70 rescue specialists, including a hazardous chemical materials team, from its elite Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team.

Japan deployed an initial team of 18 rescuers to Turkey, and plans to have 75 rescuers in total there.

China sent at least eight relief experts to Turkey. They had with them advanced radar life detectors, demolition and rescue equipment, and a search-and-rescue dog. China is also extending more than 40 million yuan (S$7.8 million) in initial emergency aid to Turkey and Syria.

India had two teams consisting of 100 rescuers with specially trained dogs already en route to Turkey on Monday.

South Korea, meanwhile, started sending a contingent of 100 emergency responders and military personnel, and earmarked about US$5 million in aid and emergency supplies.

The Philippines said it was also preparing to send rescuers and first aid supplies to Turkey, and Australia has pledged at least US$10 million in humanitarian aid.

Taiwan dispatched about 40 rescuers to Turkey on Monday, and another team was set to depart on Tuesday. The self-ruled island said it plans to send about 130 emergency responders, along with five search dogs and 30 tonnes of aid.

Rescue and relief assistance from across the globe have been pouring into Turkey and Syria, hours after the earthquake struck early on Monday morning near the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep.

Both Russia and Ukraine – currently locked in a deadly war – offered aid to Turkey and Syria, with two military aircraft with 100 rescuers flying out of Moscow to help in rescue efforts.

The United States has been coordinating immediate assistance to Turkey, including teams to support search-and-rescue efforts. At least 100 firefighters and structural engineers, along with specially trained dogs, from Los Angeles have set off for Turkey.

Aid has also come from Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Israel, Egypt, Greece and Jordan.

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