Rescue efforts completed for İzmir quake as death toll reaches 114
All search and rescue efforts were declared complete in the western province of İzmir, days after a magnitude-6.6 earthquake shook the country’s Aegean region on Oct. 30, authorities have announced.
On Twitter, Mehmet Güllüoğlu, the head of Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), thanked the disaster workers and volunteers who served in the search and rescue efforts in the province.
The death toll from last week’s powerful earthquake in Turkey’s Aegean region has risen to 114, authorities said.
As many as 137 victims are still receiving treatment, while 898 have been discharged from hospitals, according to AFAD.
Taking part in field works for five days without a break after the earthquake, the rescuers became the heroes of the country with their devotion and extraordinary efforts.
There were miners, foresters, doctors, soldiers and even one orchestra chief among the search and rescue volunteers who flocked to the disaster-hit city from all over Turkey.
A 1999 Marmara earthquake killed tens of thousands of people, forcing the nation to reconsider options for a coordinated response as the authorities had failed at providing rapid assistance to disaster victims in the aftermath of the earthquake.
“We are the hope of both those under the rubble and their relatives waiting for them outside,” rescuers in İzmir told Hürriyet daily.
Most of the rescuers are volunteers, according to the newspaper.
“We need many people like us to be volunteer search and rescue workers,” said one rescuer, noting that if other disasters happen, everyone will be needed.
The chief of a rescue team from the eastern province of Diyarbakır said İzmir locals had stood by their side throughout the works, bringing them home cooked meals frequently.
“We owe them big-time. They showed so much interest that we were humbled,” said Mehmet Nedim Erik, the chief of the city’s fire department.
“The day before we were working without stopping in the wreckage. We realized that there might be a living being inside. We saw that it was a cat,” Erik said, describing the happiness he experienced when they reached the little disaster victim.
“She was in very good condition. She was a little overweight, a cat like a lamb,” he said.
The Istanbul-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH) was one of the search and rescue teams that took part in the field works and also took the 3-year-old baby out of the wreckage.
“We heard a child voice. Then we saw her hands through a tiny hole. I can’t tell the excitement that filled me,” said İbrahim Topal from the non-governmental organization.
A total of 1,621 aftershocks, 44 of them with a magnitude higher than 4, have been recorded since the magnitude 6.6 quake rattled İzmir, Turkey’s third-largest city by population and home to more than 4.3 million people, AFAD said.
Meanwhile, since 1999, nearly 27,000 people have been given search and rescue training that focuses on techniques to be used in field works under debris resulting from disasters, an official of the country’s disaster agency has said.
Mustafa Kaya, a natural disaster search and rescue instructor from AFAD, noted that urban search and rescue training lasts for five weeks and light search and rescue training takes about five days.