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Southeast Tragedy: Kahramanmaraş Earthquake

Citizens and volunteers gave great support to the aid campaigns initiated by the municipalities. Citizens of all ages flocked to the places designated as Earthquake Aid Collection Areas and delivered aid materials such as food, beverages, clothes, electric stoves, blankets, coats, scarves, berets, and gloves to the authorities. As a result of the works coordinated by the municipality teams and volunteers, the trucks set out to be delivered to the earthquake victims.

Numerous public institutions that had been built over years and at great expense are now in ruins as a result of the earthquake. Hospitals are reduced to rubble, and administrative buildings are in shambles. The extent of the damage becomes clearer. The once-impressive ports and other critical infrastructure that had been built up over time are now ruins, their former grandeur overshadowed by the earthquake's destruction. Statistics of the Earthquake On the East Anatolia Fault line, two earthquakes hit Kahramanmaraş, Turkiye on 6 February 2023. The first one, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake, hit the Pazarcık district at 4:17 a.m. local time, and the second one, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit the Elbistan district at 13:24 local time, almost 9 hours later. And contrary to the ordinary, the second strike was not an aftershock but was a different earthquake on the same line.

According to the declaration of AFAD, given on 20 February, the death toll reached 41,000, and over 80,000 people were rescued from under the wrecks. And according to BBC, 2,412 aftershocks hit the region.

In addition, the Sözcü newspaper included the following information regarding the number of collapsed buildings: “Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum stated that 171,882 buildings in 10 provinces were examined, and it was determined that 120,940 independent sections in 24,921 buildings were demolished, about to be demolished or severely damaged.”

Finally, Anadolu Agency released the data that 139,438 earthquake victims were evacuated following the disaster. National Support As of February 11, 60,217 personnel are currently working tirelessly to assist with ongoing rescue and relief operations. Volunteers from various non-governmental organizations such as AFAD, AKUT, and AHBAP have stepped forward to provide support. These selfless individuals are contributing their time, skills, and resources to help those in need. The number of individuals involved in this effort demonstrates the urgency and gravity of the situation. Reports indicate that requests for aid and assistance are pouring in from all over the country, emphasizing the magnitude of this natural disaster, despite the challenges and obstacles that those on the ground face, the outpouring of support and solidarity from both within and outside of Turkiye is a testament to the human spirit's resilience and strength in the face of difficult circumstances.

Following the earthquake that struck Kahramanmaraş, the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) is in critical need of blood donations to assist the victims in the affected region. There are currently efforts underway to determine the most effective and efficient way for concerned citizens to donate blood to the cause.

The critical need for blood supplies in the aftermath of this natural disaster has prompted a nationwide mobilization of existing blood stocks, which are being sent to affected areas nationwide. The Turkish Red Crescent, on the other hand, has emphasized the critical need for continuous blood donations, as donated blood cannot be stored for an extended period of time.

Turkish Red Crescent President Kerem Kınık has issued a call to action, urging people to come forward and donate blood to help those in need. Concerned citizens can make a significant and immediate difference in the lives of those affected by this tragedy by doing so.

Aside from rescue and relief efforts, many food donation campaigns are underway to assist those affected by the earthquake. Local organizations, charities, and volunteers have been collecting and distributing food items to those affected by the disaster. These efforts are critical in providing affected individuals and families with basic necessities such as food and water. Earthquake Resource Lists In a case of emergency, a rapid call for help or finding a quick solution can be lifesaving. However, with an overburden of incomplete sources, access to important services becomes interrupted. To eradicate this problem and ease access to the assistance of related organizations, a group of volunteers from Turkiye created “”. Through the website we can report injuries, debris, need for food, or heating in an urgency. It also announces information about people under the rubble, places where the victims can stay, those who offer accommodation or transportation, those who need food, and lastly villages including their current situation in terms of access to aid. Furthermore, anyone who is willing to offer help with transportation or donation can be directed to people in need through this website. E-hastane During the past week, the demolition of buildings has resulted in countless people being injured, some of whom have been taken to the hospital immediately without their families being informed. For this reason, many citizens are not able to get in contact with a family member that has been affected by the earthquake. To tackle this issue, everyone is now able to obtain information about their first and second-degree relatives through “e-nabız”, a governmental website and application that includes all data collected from healthcare institutions. Linkstap As it has now become impossible to keep up with every useful document shared online, a comprehensive but simple page including a list of links has been created on Linkstap. The links include documents such as the safe spots, closed roads, the disaster information system, accommodation, blood donation, supply distribution spots for the public, a list of victims admitted to the hospital, etc. How did the Turkish Government Respond? The government took measures to rescue people under the wrecks. Schools in the disaster areas were closed until the 20th of February and until the 13th of February all across the country. Then, it has been extended to the 1st of March for the 10 cities and the 20th of February for the rest.

Aid did not reach the city of Hatay until the 24th hour, since the airport and the roads were out of order. A state of emergency has been declared for 3 months in those 10 cities that were directly affected by the earthquake on the 7th of February. The second army has been employed to help the crews. Access to Twitter was restricted on the 8th of February at around 17:00, and the ban was lifted sometime after midnight. Search and rescue operations are completed in the Şanlıurfa district and the crews in the city are being transferred to other places. How to Donate from Abroad? Since the past three days, Turkiye has opened itself to all kinds of international aid, and in times like these every individual is encouraged to contribute from all around the world. Everyone can send essential needs to the zones affected by the earthquake or financially donate through reliable governmental organizations or NGOs.

Turkish Embassies abroad call for donations of winter clothes, hygiene products, and non-perishable food items to be sent to the victims in Türkiye. More details are accessible on the official websites. For financial aid, researching the source of the fundraiser is crucial, since it is in everyone’s best interest to make sure that the aid goes to related global organizations and will be used for collective actions.

For this aim, the Turkish Red Crescent and AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency) are calling for international money transfers through the information that is present on their official website. Some examples of related national organizations also include AHBAP and AKUT. Furthermore, numerous globally active NGOs have been raising money for the victims which are contributed by people all over the world. The websites for the fundraisers are all available online now. International Rescue Arrived at Turkiye As Turkey declared fourth level alarm after the earthquakes, international help was requested. The list of the countries that sent help continues to grow with every passing moment. Starting with Azerbaijan as the first country to send research and rescue teams for help, many countries and organizations declared that they will be sending help. Firstly, a qualified team of 899 personnel was sent by Azerbaijan to Kahramanmaraş, the epicenter of the earthquake, to help save the victims under the rubble. The list of other countries that sent a team to that region is as follows: France, the UK, Spain, Germany, Belarus, Sweden, Mexico, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Kyrgyzstan, China, Singapore, Israel, South Africa, and Russia.

Also, numerous search and rescue teams have been sent to Hatay, one of the areas that have been affected by the earthquake the most. Countries that have sent a team to the region can be listed as follows: Montenegro, France, UK, Greece, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, Moldova, Germany, Portugal, Ukraine, Croatia, Mexico, Uzbekistan, South Korea, Japan, China, India, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Jordan.

Likewise, a great number of international personnel have been working tirelessly in Adıyaman for days. Countries that have been contributing to relief operations in that district are specified as follows: Canada, Montenegro, Serbia, France, Spain, Poland, Netherlands, Georgia, USA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Czechia, Taiwan, Pakistan, Philippines, Mongolia, Iran, Algeria, UAE, Sudan, Venezuela, and Russia.

One of the cities that has also been affected the most by the earthquake is Gaziantep. Initially, on the 8th of February, the Ukrainian search and rescue team arrived. Throughout the forthcoming days, other groups from countries such as Belarus, Spain, Romania, Iceland, Poland, and China, have also taken place in the rescue efforts.

Additionally, several days after the earthquake, numerous qualified personnel have been sent to Malatya from Germany, Malta, Sweden, and Palestine, with the aim of assisting in efforts of saving the victims. The governments of Croatia and France have also sent personnel as well as supplies to Osmaniye, with the same objective.

The numbers of research and rescue personnel from countries and regions including but not limited to are

  • 899 from Azerbaijan

  • 200 from KKTC

  • 118 from South Korea

  • 57 from Armenia

  • 52 from Pakistan

  • Approximately 1200 from 21 European countries

  • 95 from Saudi Arabia

  • 92 people from the UAE

  • 150 from Iraq

  • 41 from Tunisia

  • 83 from Lebanon

  • 40 from Sudan

  • 100 from Uzbekistan

  • 70 from Malaysia

  • 90 from Spain

  • 200 from China

  • 63 from Kyrgyzstan

  • 24 from Vietnam

  • 11 from Canada,

  • 100 from Georgia

  • 150 from Mexico

  • 130 from Taiwan

  • 50 From Tajikistan

  • 59 from Hong Kong

  • 153 from India

  • 46 from Bangladesh

  • 42 from Brasilia

  • 450 from Israel

  • 125 from Iran

  • 35 from Palestine

  • 150 from Russia

  • 65 from Holland

  • 55 from Moldova

  • 178 from Poland

  • 80 from Switzerland

  • 55 from Moldova

  • 115 from Germany

  • 52 from Portugal

  • 32 from Malta

  • 22 from Greece and even more countries or regions according to AA.

And these numbers do not include the number of first aid or medical personnel sent, materials for survival, and research dogs. Worldwide, countries have globally united to send help to search for the people that have been trapped under the rubble after the collapse of many buildings. Additionally, many countries have donated or started campaigns to raise funds for the people impacted by the Earthquake in both Turkiye and Syria. The Need for Translators in the Field As communication plays an undeniably important role in these times, the victims and the public should always be able to interact with the people around them, especially with international search and rescue teams. With this objective in mind, an NGO named “Afette Çevirmen Rehberlik (AÇR)” was founded. It consists of a qualified translator staff who are also educated in first aid and related terminology. In case of need, anyone can contact them through their website or social media. Also, YİMER, a governmental organization under the name of the foreigners' communication center has been offering aid in seven languages to areas affected by the earthquake.

Despite the collective efforts of NGOs, a qualified translator can not always be directly and immediately sent to a determined zone. For such situations, many announcements are made mainly through social media platforms and contacts. In that case, any individual wishing to help is encouraged to arrive at the zone and help establish conversation if they are located nearby, qualified in that language and have a knowledge of the terminology. If not, anyone can share the announcement with more people until someone is found. Written by Duru Acül, Şevval Kalkan, Can Tarhan, Rana Uluçay, Yağmur Ece Nisanoğlu Edited by Melisa Altıntaş


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