| 24 April 2024, Wednesday |

Ukrainian rescuers fly in from war zone to save lives in Turkey

Ukrainian rescue experts, more used to emergencies in a war zone at home, have brought their skills to the devastation caused from a massive earthquake in Turkey to search flattened buildings for survivors, erect tents and offer first aid.

“There is a war in our country, but we understand that we have to help, and this aid is mutual. There is no other way to do it,” said Oleksandr Khorunzhyi, a spokesman for the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.

Kyiv has sent 88 people to Turkey to help with a disaster that had killed 19,000 people across southern Turkey and northwest Syria. The team includes specialists in search and rescue operations, doctors, dog handlers and firefighters.

“This work goes on constantly, we have prepared people who take part in such operations,” said Khorunzhyi.

The Ukrainian team 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 earthquake.

They have joined rescuers from Turkey and around the world, including Russia which invaded Ukraine a year ago, shattering cities in Ukraine’s east and south where fighting still rages in a conflict Moscow says is to fight a threat to Russian security. Kyiv and the West calls it an unprovoked land grab.

“We will work and distance ourselves from Russian rescuers as far as we can. 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,” Khorunzhyi said.

“People should protect their lives, this is the most important thing they have. We sympathise with the Turkish people, the families of the dead and wounded.”

  • Asharq Al-Awsat