India sends rescue personnel, relief material to earthquake-hit Turkey
Under Operation Dost, another flight will carry 51 NDRF personnel, sniffer dog and four vehicles to Turkey on Wednesday.
Under its relief and rescue operations, India has airlifted 101 personnel from the National Disaster Response Force, a 99-member field hospital team from the Indian Army and 130 tonnes of equipment and relief materials in four C-17 heavy lift aircraft even as one Indian national is reported to be missing in quake-hit Turkey, officials said on Wednesday.
Under Operation Dost, another flight will carry 51 NDRF personnel, sniffer dog and four vehicles to Turkey on Wednesday. Six tonnes of medical supplies and equipment have been sent to Syria in a C-130 aircraft and Indian agencies are fully prepared to provide more aid at short notice, officials told a media briefing.
According to the officials, one Indian national has been reported missing while 10 more are reported to be stuck in a difficult situation but safe.
“We have one Indian national missing who was on a business visit to...a place called Malatya and he has not been traced for the last two days. We are in touch with his family and the company in Bengaluru which employs him,” secretary (West) Sanjay Verma of the external affairs ministry said, referring to the city in southeastern Turkey that was affected by Monday’s quake.
“There are 10 individuals who are stuck in some remote parts of the affected areas but they are safe...We don’t have any other reports at this point of time which suggests that the Indian community in that part of Turkey is [in] any fatal danger,” he said. A help desk at the Indian embassy in Ankara received calls from 75 Indian nationals seeking either help or information. “Three Indians who approached us have been moved to a safer place,” Verma said.
There are 3,000 Indians in Turkey, with 1,850 in and around Istanbul, 250 in Ankara and rest spread across the country. Monday’s earthquake has so far resulted in more than 11,000 deaths in Turkey and Syria. On the Turkish side, an area of 120,000 sq km spread across 10 provinces has been affected, and more than 430 aftershocks have been reported since the quake.
Indian rescue teams are currently focusing on pulling out survivors from collapsed buildings and the Indian mission will work with local authorities to move Indians from quake-hit areas to safer places at a later stage, officials said.
NDRF director general Atul Karwal said rescue teams sent to Turkey were fully self-sustained and had food, vehicles and fuel supplies for conducting operations for 15 days. He said the 101 NDRF personnel included five women, the first time they were deployed abroad.
Rescue teams are operating in Gaziantep, one of the worst affected areas, in harsh weather conditions, including strong winds, snowfall and rainfall. Another 51-member NDRF team from Varanasi with sniffer dogs and four vehicles would be deployed in Turkey soon and five more teams are on standby, Karwal said.
Air Marshal BR Krishna, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff at the Integrated Defence Staff headquarters, said more aircraft are on standby round the clock to “pump in more resources at short notice”. Another military medical team is also on standby, he said.
Verma said India despatched the first relief flight within 12 hours of a decision at a high-level meeting on Monday to provide aid. The external affairs ministry deployed two additional Turkish speaking officers in Turkey and four personnel in the affected areas to coordinate relief flights. A control room has been established at Adana, one of the affected areas, and the Indian consul-general in Istanbul and other officials have been sent to the affected regions.
He said India has built up its humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) capabilities since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. “This is probably the farthest we have gone in terms of our HADR [efforts]...We try and live up to our reputation of being first responders and net security providers in these challenging times,” he said.