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South Africa rescue, medical teams arrive in Turkiye to help earthquake victims

February 8, 2023 at 6:24 pm

Members of NGOs such as Gift of Givers, South Africa Search and Rescue (SARZA) and Al Imdaad make preparations ahead of their departure along with search and rescue equipment from Johannesburg, South Africa to help search and rescue operations in Turkiye, on February 07, 2023. [Ozgur Guvendik/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

South African search and rescue experts, as well as medical teams arrived in Turkiye on Wednesday to help victims of Monday’s deadly quakes in which over 9,000 people have, so far, died, a humanitarian organisation said, Anadolu News Agency reports.

“Gift of the Givers teams landed this morning in Turkiye … the Turkish government and their agency, AFAD, Turkish Airlines, police and people at the airport received us with open arms,” Dr. Imtiaz Sooliman, head of the South Africa-based humanitarian organisation, told Anadolu via telephone.

Sooliman said Turkish officials set up a dedicated flight for them and their equipment to fly to Adana, where they will land and later travel to the earthquake zone.

The South African team includes 27 search and rescue team members, and 20 medical personnel to treat trauma.

“Tonight, we are busy running against time to send six other search and rescue personnel to Turkiye,” Sooliman said.

He added that the South African Police Service has also agreed to send five sniffer dogs and their handlers to Turkiye. “Dogs make a huge impact in search and rescue, and help in finding where people are buried,” he said.

The 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude Kahramanmaras-centred earthquakes affected nine other provinces – Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurfa – inflicting widespread damage. Regional countries, including Lebanon and Syria, also felt the tremors.

READ: Turkish Airlines to evacuate 30,000 more people from earthquake zone on Wednesday