Turkey mobilizes to help earthquake victims

Many civil society organizations, businesses, government institutions and individuals have started to send aid packages and rescue teams to help the victims of an earthquake.

People get bread as part of humanitarian aid after a powerful earthquake rocked eastern Turkey, in the city of Ercis, Van province, Turkey, 24 October.(EPA)

People get bread as part of humanitarian aid after a powerful earthquake rocked eastern Turkey, in the city of Ercis, Van province, Turkey, 24 October.(EPA)

Many civil society organizations, businesses, government institutions and individuals from all around the country have started to send aid packages and rescue teams to help the victims of an earthquake that shook the eastern province of Van on Sunday.

On Monday, the Turkish Red Crescent sent tents and blankets to Van. A statement released by the Turkish Red Crescent said that 96 aid workers arrived in the disaster zone to set up 3,757 tents. “We have dispatched 10,878 blankets to the disaster zone,” the statement said. Moreover, 100 stoves, 1,719 kitchen utensil sets, 1,120 food packages, 2,320 bottles of drinking water, 5,000 loaves of bread, one mobile oven and 21 mobile kitchens have been sent to the region. The statement also noted that in addition to the 24 Turkish Red Crescent rescue experts who were already in the disaster zone, the aid organization sent another 72 experts to the region on Monday to join the relief efforts.

Dr. İbrahim Çelik, head of the Turkish Red Crescent’s Southeastern Region Blood Transfusion Center, told Cihan on Monday that they have sufficient quantities of blood in the center for victims of the earthquake and that they have already provided blood for some of the injured.

Kimse Yok Mu (Is Anybody There), a Turkish benevolent association known for its international charity work, sent search-and-rescue teams to Van province on Sunday. Speaking to the Cihan news agency on Monday, the supervisor of the teams, Osman Gözcü, stated that a team of four medics had also voluntarily joined the rescue operations. “We receive logistical aid from all our [Kimse Yok Mu] branches in Turkey. In addition to search-and-rescue and health services, we will provide tents and food for the victims of the earthquake,” Gözcü.

Additionally, Kimse Yok Mu’s Adana branch sent to Van 22 tons of food and enough tents to shelter 500 people. Branch head Adem Sönmez said they immediately started preparing aid packages when they first heard of the earthquake. Sönmez thanked people for their donations and added: “Our foundation [Kimse Yok Mu’s Adana branch] immediately sent a search-and-rescue team in a private airplane to Van. We have also sent food and tents to the area.”

Turkey’s leading fixed-line operator, Türk Telekom, told the press on Sunday that telephone and ADSL internet services are running smoothly in Van. Local and national calls made from landline telephones on Sunday and Monday did not incur any charges by Türk Telekom. People were able to call any national number from phone booths as well.

Furthermore, TTNet, Turkey’s main Internet service provider, told Cihan on Sunday that it will open a communications center in Van where earthquake victims will be provided with a free Wi-Fi connection for three months. TTNet General Manager Tahsin Yılmaz said, “May Allah have mercy on those citizens of our country killed [in the quake]. I offer my condolences to their families and to our nation. We will continue providing Internet services to our subscribers. Surely communication will be more important following this disaster.”

Turkey’s leading GSM operators, Turkcell and Avea, also expressed their condolences for the victims of earthquake. The two operators stated they will provide 100 free minutes and 100 SMS to their customers in the province of Van to be used within a one-month period. Almost all Turkish mobile phone operators brought mobile base stations into Van to prevent loss of communications.

Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel published a message of condolence on behalf of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) on the general staff’s website that read, “We submit our condolences to the families of people who died in the earthquake that took place in the province of Van on Oct. 23, 2011.

Health Ministry sends 201 ambulances and 8 medevacs to earthquake zone

The Health Ministry’s Health, Disaster and Emergency Coordination Center (SAKOM) is currently dealing with medical issues in the earthquake region and has sent 201 ambulances, six helicopters and two airplanes to transfer the injured to hospitals in neighboring provinces and as far as Ankara.

The Health Ministry’s first aid and emergency health services branch director, Fazıl İnan, stated that a team of 220 medical personnel and 60 rescue vehicles were sent to the region within the first hours of the incident. İnan noted that eight medevacs that were brought in from the provinces of Erzurum, Diyarbakır, Kayseri and Adana are transferring the injured to hospitals in Ağrı, Erzurum, Iğdır and Ankara.

İnan added that the Health Ministry has set up four tent hospitals in Van at which the injured are receiving first aid treatment. Another 1,500 hospital beds in neighboring provinces have been reserved for the possible need of the earthquake victims. The Health Ministry has also sent boxes of vaccines, serums, antibiotics and painkillers.

Cihan

24 October 2011 Monday