Estonia sends rescue and medical aid to earthquake-hit Turkey

Rescue workers in Turkey.
Rescue workers in Turkey. Source: SCANPIX/AP Photo/Khalil Hamra

Estonia will send aid to Turkey to help with rescue operations after a sudden and severe earthquake and aftershocks rocked the country on Monday morning.

Turkey requested international assistance after the disaster and Estonia will provide a 44-strong team, including 10 medics from the Health Board, in cooperation with the interior and foreign ministries and the Rescue Board.

Minister of Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said this was one of the deadliest earthquakes of the last decade.

"We have also made efforts to provide assistance to Turkey as quickly as possible. Solidarity and a rapid response capacity are key in such crises," the minister said.

The Estonian team initially plans to stay for seven days and participate in search and rescue operations and provide medical assistance through the EU's Civil Protection Mechanism. 

Director General of the Rescue Board Kuno Tammearu said: "This membership is based on solidarity — we help each other in case of disasters. Estonia has an UN-qualified emergency response team, which is what Turkey needs at the moment, and that is how we are helping Turkey in this disaster."

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said thousands of people have been killed in the earthquake, which caused apartment blocks to collapse.

The number of dead and wounded may increase over the coming days, he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, the minister offered his condolences to the families who lost loved ones. He said Estonia stands in solidarity with Turkey and "we are ready to help".

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will allocate €400,000 rescue and medical aid to Turkey.

The earthquake measured 7.8 on the richer scale and affected southern Turkey and Syria, killing at least 820 and 1,550 people respectively. At least 5,000 people have been injured.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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