Ukrainian rescue experts who have become all too familiar with emergencies in a war zone at home have brought their skills to Turkey to search for survivors in buildings flattened by two massive earthquakes and perform first aid.
Kyiv sent 88 emergency responders to Turkey on Thursday to help with a disaster that has killed more than 20,000 people across southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria. The team includes specialists in search and rescue operations, doctors, dog handlers and firefighters.
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“There is a war in our country, but we understand that we have to help, and this aid is mutual,” said Oleksandr Khorunzhyi, spokesman for the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian team has built tents near the Turkish city of Antakya close to the Syrian border to provide emergency shelter and set up generators for those left homeless by the earthquakes.
They joined rescue workers from Turkey and around the world, including Russia, which invaded Ukraine a year ago.
Ukrainian rescuers are helping with the aftermath of the terrible earthquake in Turkey. Our thoughts are with the victims of the terrible disaster, their families and loved ones #Turkey #Syria
Photo: state emergency service of Ukraine pic.twitter.com/JAGQdiokNT
— Olena Halushka (@OlenaHalushka) February 9, 2023
“We will work and distance ourselves from Russian rescuers as far as we can,” Khorunzhyi said. “The coordination centre has informed us that Russian emergency crews are located in a far-off place, and we won’t be able to meet.”
“People should protect their lives,” he said. “This is the most important thing they have. We sympathise with the Turkish people, the families of the dead and wounded.”