wo major earthquakes centered in Kahramanmaraş in southern Turkey hit 10 provinces of the country and northwest Syria on Monday, February 6, 2023. Like the first, the second earthquake caused the collapse of many buildings and put rescuers in danger.
The death toll in Turkey and Syria so far has surpassed 5,000. On Tuesday, February 7, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said that the death toll from the earthquakes had risen to 3,419 and 20,532 people were injured. Meanwhile, at least 1,600 people were killed in Syria and about 3,500 injured, according to figures from the Damascus government and rescue workers in the rebel-controlled northwestern regions.
The earthquakes prompted Turkey to declare a level 4 emergency state, which includes an international call for help. Many nations from all over the world have pledged aid, and some have already sent search and rescue teams.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated that UN staff was on the ground in Turkey and Syria to assess the needs of the situation and provide assistance. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi voiced solidarity with those affected in Turkey and Syria, and said the agency was “ready to help provide urgent relief to the survivors through our field teams wherever possible.”
The World Health Organization director-general, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said emergency medical teams had been activated to provide essential health care for the injured and most vulnerable.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg voiced solidarity with Turkey and tweeted, “I am in touch with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and NATO Allies are mobilizing support now.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching immediate assistance from their Disaster Response Emergency Fund.
India is sending two teams with 100 personnel and trained canine squads from its National Disaster Response Force along with equipment for search and rescue operations, medical teams, and relief material.
China will give 40 million yuan ($5.9 million) in emergency aid to help Turkey’s relief efforts and the country’s Red Cross will give emergency aid of $200,000 each to Turkey and Syria. The Red Cross Society of China said it will send further humanitarian aid if needed.
Malaysia has deployed 70 members of its Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) to assist local authorities with rescue efforts, due to arrive to Turkey early on Tuesday.
Taiwan will donate $200,000 for relief efforts and send a 40-person rescue team to Turkey.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has pledged to send 60 rescue workers and emergency medical items to the “brother nation” of Turkey. Meanwhile, the regional government of Gyeonggi Province said it plans to provide $1 million in humanitarian assistance to Turkey to support the rescue efforts and medical response.
Japan is dispatching a rescue and relief team of 75 workers and providing emergency humanitarian assistance to Turkey.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani offered condolences to Turkey and Syria, and stated, “If there is a need for the presence of relief and health institutions of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the earthquake-affected areas, we will fulfill our moral responsibility.”
Lebanon is sending soldiers, Red Cross and Civil Defense first responders, and firefighters to Turkey to help with the rescue efforts.
Egypt has pledged urgent humanitarian aid to Turkey.
Jordan is also among the countries that will send emergency aid to Syria and Turkey.
The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani expressed his condolences in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The state news agency QNA announced that the emir expressed Qatar’s support for the “sisterly” country “in mitigating the serious humanitarian repercussions left by the earthquake.”
The UAE pledged $13.6 m worth of humanitarian assistance to Syria, search and rescue teams, and urgent relief supplies. The country dispatched a plane to Adana Airport in southern Turkey which carried search and rescue teams, crews, and medical equipment. The UAE announced that it was also planning to establish a field hospital in Turkey.
The Israeli army is sending a search and rescue team of 150 engineers, medical personnel, and other aid workers to Turkey. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has also approved a request for humanitarian aid to Syria, received through a diplomatic official.
Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to send Russian teams to both Turkey and Syria. Russia’s Defense Ministry stated that it has already deployed 10 units comprised of 300 military personnel to Syria to help with the rescue effort. The Russian military has set up points to distribute humanitarian assistance.
The European Union has mobilized search and rescue teams to help Turkey and activated the Copernicus satellite system to provide emergency mapping services. The EU announced it is ready to offer help to Syria through its humanitarian assistance programs.
The European Commission stated that 10 search and rescue teams from eight EU countries (Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Greece, and the Netherlands) have been mobilized to help first responders in Turkey.
Poland sent a rescue group consisting of 76 firefighters and eight rescue dogs, according to the Polish Interior Ministry. Romania is sending specialized personnel and material to Turkey on two military aircraft. France is also dispatching rescue teams to Turkey. Croatia is sending 40 men and 10 dogs, rescue equipment, and vans to Turkey. Greece immediately sent a team of 21 rescuers, two rescue dogs, a special rescue vehicle with a structural engineer, five doctors, and seismic planning experts in a military transport plane. The Czech Republic is sending Turkey a team of 68 rescuers, including firefighters, doctors, structural engineers, and experts with sniffer dogs.
Serbia is sending 21 rescuers and three liaison officers to Turkey.
Montenegro is sending at least 24 firefighters to Turkey; meanwhile, 55 rescue workers have already been sent to Turkey.
Spain’s Interior Ministry stated that Spanish urban rescue teams with 85 personnel and a contingent of volunteer firefighters are preparing to travel to Turkey. Officials from the Spanish Defense Ministry and other departments were coordinating to send crews immediately to Turkey.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said Italy’s Civil Protection Agency would contribute support and provide first aid. A firefighting team was preparing to leave from Pisa, and the Italian military stated that transport flights will carry equipment and personnel.
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser offered the services of Germany’s Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) to set up camps and provide water treatment units, generators, tents, and blankets. Germany pledged $1.1 m in assistance to charities providing humanitarian aid in northwest Syria. International Search and Rescue Germany flew dozens of doctors and rescue experts to Turkey late Monday.
The Swiss government announced it would also send 80 search and rescue specialists to Turkey, including army disaster experts. Also, the Swiss rescue dog service REDOG is sending 22 rescuers with 14 dogs to the country.
Austria has offered to send 84 soldiers from a military disaster relief unit to Turkey.
The UK sent a team of 76 search and rescue specialists and four dogs to Turkey that arrived Monday evening. Furthermore, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly stated, “We stand ready to provide further support as needed.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that his country was ready to send support. He also offered condolences to Turkish President Erdoğan, the Turkish people, and the families of the victims of the earthquake in the southeast of Turkey in a tweet.
The Americas and Oceania
U.S. President Joe Biden said his administration was authorizing an immediate response to the devastating quake. The United States is sending two 79-person search and rescue teams to assist authorities in Turkey. U.S.-supported humanitarian partners are also responding to the destruction in Syria.
Mexico will send equipment and rescue specialists to Turkey.
New Zealand is providing $632,000 to the Turkish Red Crescent and $316,000 to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent for food, tents, and blankets, as well as medical assistance and psychological support for victims.
Time is of the essence
Given that the cold winter presents harsh conditions for rescuers and victims, time is of the essence as the death toll from the earthquakes rises. The weather conditions and damaged roads have made it difficult to bring aid to the affected regions and conduct rescues.
Only rescue and aid vehicles are being allowed to enter and leave three of the most impacted regions, namely Hatay, Kahramanmaraş, and Adıyaman. Turkey’s disaster management agency has verified the collapse of 5,775 buildings in the area affected by the earthquakes.
In Syria, volunteer rescue workers have stated that they lack some of the most basic provisions to pull those still trapped under the rubble of their homes.