The Dutch search and rescue team USAR has pulled six people alive from under the rubble in the earthquake disaster area in Turkey, the team reported on Wednesday. The number of deaths in Turkey and Syria from strong earthquakes that hit on Monday has risen to 8,164.
Each of the USAR’s four rescue groups (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta) have rescued at least one person, said a spokesperson for the team, which has set up base camp near the town of Hatay. “In the course of the night, the rescue teams replaced each other. We searched all night, and now we are working in the area,” the spokesperson said, adding that the teams received a lot of appreciation on the street. USAR published photos of its rescue operations on social media and its website showing, among other things, a woman being pulled from a collapsed building by two rescue workers.
The USAR departed from Eindhoven Airport to the Turkish Adana on Monday evening and set up base camp in the disaster area on Tuesday. The team comprises 65 people from the police, fire brigade, ambulance services, and Defense who have been specially trained for search and rescue missions. They also took eight rescue dogs. The four groups work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in alternating shifts. Two groups work while the other two rest and eat, the spokesperson explained. The dogs are trained to pick up signals from living people. The Dutch team is one of many rescue teams from different countries active in the Hatay region.
Southeast Turkey was hit by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake early on Monday morning. The epicenter was 26 kilometers northwest of the city of Gaziantep, not far from the border with Syria, which was also heavily affected by the disaster. A second quake occurred later on Monday morning, and there have been multiple aftershocks since.
Turkish authorities reported 5,894 deaths by the end of Tuesday. In neighboring Syria, at least 2,270 people have been killed, over 1,220 of them in the rebel-controlled areas on the border with Turkey, according to the Syrian Ministry of Health and aid workers active in the rebel area. Over 34,810 people were injured in Turkey and at least 3,700 in Syria.
The number of victims will increase in the coming hours and days. Rescue efforts continue. Partly due to the winter weather with sub-zero temperatures and snow, rescuing survivors is a race against time. People are still being pulled out alive from under the rubble, including children.
Tour operator Corendon will provide free flights for aid organizations who want to bring goods to Turkey to help the victims of the earthquakes, a spokesperson said. Corendon, which has Turkish roots, flew the USAR team to Turkey on Monday. It also sent two buses with relief supplies like water and blankets to the disaster area. Those buses then picked up survivors and took them to Corendon’s hotel in Antalya, where they could stay temporarily. Buses will continue to take survivors to accommodations, Corendon said.
ING is helping the staff of its Turkish subsidiary, a spokesperson said. The Dutch financial group has over 200 branches and more than 3,600 employees in Turkey, including in the region where the earthquakes hit. According to the spokesperson, it is not yet clear whether ING staff are among the victims.
The bank is working on reaching employees in the affected area, and they are getting support with “all possible manpower.” The bank has freed up a large office for accommodation. ING employees in Turkey are also helping organize the transport of emergency goods for the affected region. ING is looking into more options to offer help to the victims of the disaster. “We are still organizing, said the spokesperson.
The municipalities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Almelo, and Maassluis will donate 1 euro per inhabitant for aid to Turkey and Syria. “The earthquake in Turkey and Syria is an unprecedented disaster. We sympathize with those affected and all Turkish, Kurdish, and Syrian Dutch people who are currently living in fear and uncertainty,” Amsterdam and Rotterdam tweeted on Tuesday.
Amsterdam will donate 905,000 euros as a city. Rotterdam, with over 664,000 inhabitants, rounds the donation up to 650,000 euros, a municipal spokesperson said. In total, the donation amounts to over 1.5 million euros.
“The loss of life is unprecedented, the number of injured is countless, and the material damage is indescribable,” the municipality of Almelo said on Twitter. “All help is needed.” The municipality counts over 73,000 inhabitants.
Maassluis is donating over 35,000 euros. Mayor Edo Haan said their thoughts go out to the victims and their loved ones. “We express our condolences to the Turkish community in Maasluis and our Syrian residents who have family and friends in the affected area and are uncertain bout their fate.
The Red Cross opened Giro 7244 for aid to the affected areas on Monday. Netherlands residents donated more than 2 million euros in just over 24 hours.
Dutch-Turkish rapper Murda started a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe to help the earthquake victims, donating 10,000 euros himself. “The money will be used to buy necessities and food for the people in need,” Murda’s manager told ANP. Murda wants to “do his bit as a Dutch-Turk,” his manager said. His mother comes from the affected area of Hatay. “He spent his childhood there every summer.”
The artist would kick off his European tour on Saturday at Paradiso in Amsterdam. “We’re canceling that because of the quake.” The sold-out concert will be rescheduled.
Reporting by ANP