Chinese rescue team pulls out survivors amid devastation in Türkiye
Updated 11:50, 12-Feb-2023
Rescuers from China's nonprofit civil rescue organization Blue Sky Rescue carry out demolition in the earthquake-stricken area of ​​Turkey. /CMG
Rescuers from China's nonprofit civil rescue organization Blue Sky Rescue carry out demolition in the earthquake-stricken area of ​​Turkey. /CMG

Rescuers from China's nonprofit civil rescue organization Blue Sky Rescue carry out demolition in the earthquake-stricken area of ​​Turkey. /CMG

China's rescue team has saved four people and discovered five bodies while surveying 25 collapsed buildings as of midday on Saturday.

China also delivered its first supplies to Türkiye for earthquake relief on Saturday morning, according to the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA).

On Friday, the Chinese rescue team pulled out a woman from the rubble of collapsed buildings in Türkiye.

The team was called to the scene after their Turkish counterparts discovered signs of life while clearing a heap of building ruins. During the operation, the team squeezed a flexible endoscope camera through small gaps in rubble to survey the condition beneath and worked with Turkish rescuers to demolish the surface of buried areas. The operation took three hours to complete.

The woman has been transferred to safety over 96 hours after a devastating earthquake jolted Türkiye and Syria. She is the fourth survivor saved by Chinese rescuers.

Overseas Chinese and Turks who speak Chinese join in

For rescuers from countries outside of Türkiye, the language barrier and unclear on-site situation could be the primary challenges. The overseas Chinese in Türkiye and Turkish people who speak Chinese are applying to volunteer to cooperate with Chinese rescue workers on site.

"The Chinese rescuers arrived successively as our Chinese volunteers in Türkiye have joined to assist, and Turkish volunteers are standing by," said Li Xintong, vice president of the Chinese women's association in Türkiye.

She said the Chinese in Türkiye acted swiftly to support the disaster relief effort.

"We have helped raise 60 tents, 52 sleeping bags, 430 blankets, over 20 winter coats and a lot of food and hygiene products," said Wang Xinghua, president of an overseas Chinese association in Izmir, Türkiye. 

According to Wang, the association has raised over 100,000 yuan ($14,696), and the donation has been sent to the local government in Türkiye.

One of the century's worst disasters

Monday's magnitude-7.8 quake, with several powerful aftershocks across Türkiye and Syria, is the world's seventh deadliest natural disaster this century. Its death toll nears 26,000 and looks set to rise far higher.

So far, the death toll inside Türkiye stands at 22,327, the country's deadliest earthquake since 1939. Meanwhile, more than 3,500 have died in Syria, where tolls have not been updated since Friday.

In Kahramanmaras, close to the epicenter in Türkiye, there were fewer visible rescue operations amid the smashed concrete mounds of fallen houses and apartment blocks. But rescuers burrowed between concrete slabs of a building to reach a five-year-old girl still alive, lifting her on a stretcher, wrapped in foil, and chanting, "God is greatest."


CGTN Stringer Neyran Elden visited the area on Friday and found many people there still needed tents, heaters, food, and other living necessities six days after the earthquake due to the enormous scale of the disaster and traffic blockage. Also, with temperatures reaching -10 degrees Celsius at night, residents in Pazarcik have had to sleep in their cars and burn wood gathered from the rubble to keep warm. 

Only a few people were brought out alive on Saturday.

Meanwhile, people fear disease, with basic infrastructure destroyed.

"If people don't die here under the rubble, they'll die from injuries; if not, they will die from infection. There is no toilet here. It is a big problem," a rescue worker named Gizem said.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths described the earthquake as the worst event in 100 years in the region. He praised Türkiye's response, saying it was his experience that people in disaster zones were always disappointed early in relief efforts.

He predicted the death toll would at least double.

(With input from agencies)

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