India sends 4 flights with rescue teams, field hospital to Turkey
Turkish authorities said more than 2,600 emergency health and rescue personnel from 45 countries had been deployed by Tuesday in areas hit by the two massive earthquakes and more than 300 aftershocks
NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday sent specialist search and rescue teams with dog squads, an army mobile hospital team and relief materials in four military heavy lift aircraft to Turkey, where the death toll continued to rise following Monday’s massive earthquake.
Another C-130 Hercules military aircraft carrying relief materials was set to be sent to Syria, people familiar with the matter said.
More than 50 search and rescue personnel from the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), specially trained dog squads, drilling machines, relief material, medicines and other equipment were despatched on a C-17 Globemaster aircraft early on Tuesday. The flight landed at Adana in Turkey, one of the areas affected by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
The second C-17 carried more NDRF teams with dog squads, search and rescue equipment, extrication tools and vehicles.
The four flights also carried a 99-member team from the Indian Army’s Agra-based army field hospital that will establish a 30-bed medical facility. The team includes critical care specialists and orthopaedic and general surgeons, and is equipped with X-ray machines, ventilators, an oxygen generation plant and other equipment.
The total number of personnel sent by the NDRF is 101, and they include doctors and paramedics.
Turkish authorities said more than 2,600 emergency health and rescue personnel from 45 countries had been deployed by Tuesday in areas hit by the quake and its aftershocks.
The people cited above said there are currently no plans to send any personnel to Syria, and the planned flight will carry relief materials and emergency supplies. It is understood that the fragile security situation in Syria, especially in the quake-hit regions where control is divided between government and opposition forces, was a key factor in the government’s decision not to send any rescue teams.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh tweeted details of the humanitarian assistance flights. Jaishankar said: “India expresses its solidarity at this challenging moment.” Singh added in a tweet that India “stands in solidarity with the people of Türkiye in this difficult time”.
Jaishankar said in another tweet that he had contacted his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad to express solidarity and convey India’s support, including the supply of medicines.
In New Delhi, minister of state for external affairs V Muraleedharan visited the Syrian embassy and extended condolences to ambassador Bassam Al-Khatib at the devastation caused by the earthquake. He also conveyed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message of sympathy and commitment to provide expeditious assistance and support.
Turkish ambassador Firat Sunel expressed appreciation for the support provided by India during an interaction with journalists. “This is an example of good friendship and we appreciate India’s timely help. Indian experts are now in the field,” he said. The damage has been extensive because there were two massive quakes and more than 300 aftershocks, he said.
Sunel said in a tweet that “dost” (friend) is a common word in Turkish and Hindi “We have a Turkish proverb: ‘Dost kara günde belli olur’ (a friend in need is a friend indeed),” he added.
The death toll in the quake-hit regions rose to more than 5,100 on Tuesday, including 3,500 in Turkey and 1,600 in Syria. At least 150,000 people have been left homeless and about 6,000 buildings collapsed in Turkey alone, according to Red Cross officials.
Following Modi’s instructions to offer all possible assistance to Turkey, a decision was made during a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday to dispatch search and rescue and medical teams along with relief materials.