Thursday May 23, 2024

Pakistan sets up relief fund for Turkey earthquake victims

Third plane carrying winterised tents, blankets to take off today

By Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai
February 07, 2023
PAF plane carrying rescue teams and relief goods landed in Turkey on February 7, 2023. — PAF
PAF plane carrying rescue teams and relief goods landed in Turkey on February 7, 2023. — PAF

In response to the deadly earthquake in Turkey that has claimed over 5,000 lives, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced the establishment of a relief fund to help victims.

After a plane load of relief goods and a rescue team from Pakistan reached Turkey, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb took to Twitter and said: "To help the victims of the earthquake in Turkey at this difficult hour, PM Shehbaz Sharif has decided to establish PM Relief Fund." 

The minister said that the federal cabinet has announced to contribute one month's salary while the PM has appealed to the philanthropists to extend help.

Turkey and Syria have witnessed a devastating earthquake of a magnitude of 7.8, killing over 5,000 people and injuring innumerable people.

Pakistan dispatches rescue team

Earlier, Pakistan sent two aircraft carrying a 51-member search and rescue team and relief goods to Turkey to provide assistance in rescue operations.

According to a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) statement, a C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying rescue team members and blankets from PAF Base, Nur Khan has landed in Istanbul.

"The PAF aircraft is carrying relief goods from the people of Pakistan for the earthquake-affected brethren of Turkiye. The transport fleet of the Pakistan Air Force has always been at the forefront to respond to natural disasters and calamities both inland and abroad," said the spokesperson of the Foreign Office.

The spokesperson said that Pakistan had dispatched the necessary items for the victims including search and rescue teams, a 30-bed makeshift hospital and medicines. A third plane will also leave for the quake-struck country.

PAF planes carrying rescue teams and relief goods land in Turkey on February 7, 2023. — PAF
PAF planes carrying rescue teams and relief goods land in Turkey on February 7, 2023. — PAF

The rescue team includes a search squad and two technical rescue squads while a seven-member medical team has also landed in Istanbul.

In a separate statement, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said: "As part of Pakistan Support for Turkiye, urban search and rescue (USAR) and Rescue 1122 team boarded through PIA flight from Lahore to Istanbul today."

It said that a second C-130 aircraft carrying winterised tents and blankets will take off from Lahore today.

PM Shehbaz to visit Turkey

PM Shehbaz will travel to Turkey on February 8 to condole with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the devastating earthquake that hit the country.

Taking to Twitter, Aurangzeb wrote: "Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will leave for Ankara tomorrow morning, he will express his condolences to the Turkish president and to the people of Turkey over the destruction caused by the earthquake and the loss of life."

 NGO provides assistance

A local NGO Alkhidmat Foundation, collaborating with Turkish organisations, responded on the ground in quake-hit areas of Turkey and Syria by distributing hot meals, blankets, mattresses and shelter tents to the victims.

A seven-member medical team of Alkhidmat is also leaving for Turkey.

According to a press release, the foundation arranged an emergency meeting immediately after the quake, which was presided over by Alkhidmat President Prof Dr Hafeez ur Rahman.

Expressing their condolences at the loss of life and the destruction of property, the president expressed his solidarity and announced all-out support to the victims of the earthquake.

He elaborated that the medical team scheduled to leave for Turkey consists of two orthopaedic surgeons, one general surgeon, two anesthesiologists, one operation theatre technician and one nursing team member.

“The team will also carry necessary equipment and medicines with them for continuing medical operations in the earthquake-affected areas for the next two to three weeks,” he explained.

Dr Hafeez referred to the quake-hit countries as “brother countries” and said it was time to pay their past generosity.

“The earthquake-affected areas are also experiencing extreme cold. Medical aid, including hot meals, shelter tents, mattresses and warm clothes are urgently needed,” he stressed.