Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria: Swiss Rescue ends mission – Switzerland sends more specialists and material to earthquake-hit region
Bern, 13.02.2023 - After almost a week of sustained operations, Swiss Rescue is ending its search for survivors of the devastating earthquake in Turkey. The team and the search dogs are returning to Switzerland on Monday 13 February 2023. The second phase of the emergency aid operations was already launched on Saturday 11 February 2023, with the arrival of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit's rapid response team in Hatay Province, Turkey. In addition, an initial aid delivery with 300 winter-proof family tents is on its way to the earthquake-hit region.
Only a few hours after the devastating earthquakes of 6 February hit Turkey and Syria, 87 Swiss Rescue specialists flew to Turkey with 8 search dogs. The rescue team also includes around 30 disaster response specialists from the Swiss Armed Forces. Because every hour counts when trying to save earthquake survivors, the team led by Sebastian Eugster started its search and rescue work straight away. Swiss Rescue managed to pull 11 people out alive, including a 6-month-old toddler and his mother.
One week after the severe earthquake in south-eastern Anatolia, Swiss Rescue has finished searching all the damage zones it was responsible for. Its search and rescue phase is thus ending. Upon landing in Zurich in the early evening of Monday, the team will be received by Patricia Danzi, director general of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Silvio Flückiger, deputy head of Swiss Humanitarian Aid, and Thomas Süssli, head of the Swiss Armed Forces. An Icelandic rescue team is scheduled to be on the flight as well.
Second phase of emergency aid already under way
The Swiss Confederation had already started the second phase of its emergency aid before Swiss Rescue's demobilisation. In this phase, the SDC is bolstering Switzerland's work in the affected regions of Turkey and Syria with additional specialists and aid material.
On Saturday 11 February 2023, the rapid response team of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit reached Hatay Province. The team will focus on helping the people affected survive. The needs are extensive, including winter-proof shelters, hygiene items and medical care. In addition, the safety of continuing to use the buildings still standing must be assessed.
A first shipment of 300 winter-proof family tents for 1,500 people is on its way to the affected area and will be handed over to the Turkey's Disaster And Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) for rapid distribution to the civilian population affected by the earthquake. The delivery of another 300 family tents to the affected region of Syria is in full swing.
In addition, an SDC team with Swiss specialists left Damascus for Aleppo on 13 February 2023. These experts, currently stationed at Swiss representations in the region, know the local context well. The team's mandate is to analyse the humanitarian situation and launch humanitarian actions by Switzerland and in concert with its partners on the ground. The SDC provides support throughout Syria based on needs on the ground, regardless of conflict lines.
To date, Switzerland has released CHF 7 million for the emergency operations (including International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) appeals) in Turkey and Syria.
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