Turkish army joined rescue efforts right after the quake: Akar

Turkish army joined rescue efforts right after the quake: Akar

Turkish army joined rescue efforts right after the quake: Akar

The Turkish army joined the efforts of search and rescue as well as delivering humanitarian aid to the survivors of the massive earthquake of Feb. 6 immediately after it occurred, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in response to the criticisms that he was late in mobilizing the troops.

“These discussions do not reflect the facts. The Defense Ministry with its Turkish Armed Forces units, troops, civilian personnel, workers and technicians have been mobilized and rushed to the help of the people right from the start,” Akar said in a statement on Feb. 20.

All the relevant institutions are working day and night in coordination to heal the wounds stemming from the disaster, Akar said, describing claims that the troops were not in the field as ill-intentioned.

The minister recalled that the first earthquake on Feb. 6 happened at 4.17 a.m. and the Defense Ministry as well as Chief of General Staff and all the operation centers of the land, sea and air forces demanded reports from the units at 4.30 a.m.

At the same time, Turkish Armed Forces’ Humanitarian Aid Command was instructed while Commander of the 2nd Army Gen. Metin Gürak was at his desk at 4.50 a.m., Akar informed, stressing that all the military units started to get mobilized accordingly.

The minister said he informed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at 5.10 a.m. about the state of the army following the earthquake and moved to Hatay with Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler from where they coordinated the army’s search and rescue efforts and other relief support.

Despite all the difficulties due to bad weather conditions, the Turkish army exerted great effort to transport the teams from AFAD, the disaster management agency, to the quake-hit areas, Akar said.

“A total of 4,662 sorties took place through the aerial aid corridor by 65 planes, 70 helicopters and drones,” he stated, recalling that five planes and 18 helicopters were allocated to the use of Türkiye by the United States, Indonesia, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Qatar and Norway.

“These planes are being used in relief support and delivering aid,” he added.