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Published: 10:49, February 10, 2023 | Updated: 11:03, February 10, 2023
Chinese rescue teams extract 6 from rubble
By Hou Liqiang
Published:10:49, February 10, 2023 Updated:11:03, February 10, 2023 By Hou Liqiang

Chinese and Turkish rescuers remove a man from a collapsed building on Thursday in Iskenderun, a port city in Hatay province, Turkiye. Members of the Zhejiang Rescue Team of Ramunion helped save the man and his four family members. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Chinese rescue teams helped save at least six people, including a pregnant woman and three children, in two separate operations in earthquake-devastated Turkiye on Thursday.

The Zhejiang Rescue Team of Ramunion said that its members worked with Turkish soldiers and local rescuers to free five survivors, including three children, from a heavily damaged building at around 1:30 pm local time in Iskenderun, a port city in southern Hatay province.

In Antakya in the country's south, the Chinese official rescue team, together with local rescuers, carried a pregnant woman out of the ruins of a building at around 1:30 am, according to China's Ministry of Emergency Management.

The 82-member Chinese team arrived at Adana airport on Wednesday and immediately made the five-hour trip to Antakya.

The death toll from massive earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks that struck Turkiye and neighboring Syria on Monday passed 17,000 on Thursday.

After having talks with local emergency management authorities, the Chinese official rescue team was assigned two search areas in Antakya, the ministry said.

The team's operation to rescue the pregnant woman was carried out at the request of local rescuers. "The conditions at the site are very complicated. They (Turkish rescue authorities) hoped the team with certification from the United Nations for heavy urban rescues could offer some support," the ministry said.

To save the woman, rescuers and technical experts, led by Zhao Yang, deputy head of the Chinese rescue team, went into the ruins to survey the conditions before working out a rescue plan.

Chinese rescuers and experts participated in the entire rescue, which was supported by equipment brought to Turkiye by the Chinese team, the ministry said.

Seven rescuers from the Zhejiang Rescue Team of Ramunion, an NGO from Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, arrived in Turkiye at 1:30 pm on Wednesday.

They immediately headed to Iskenderun after teaming up with a nine-member local logistics support team. The Ramunion workers threw themselves into the rescue operation despite temperatures dropping to — 8 C, according to the NGO.

Dispatched by the local emergency management authority, the team reached a crumbled six-story building at 7:47 pm to search for a 67-year-old man.

However, they failed to detect any sign of life after searching for two hours with equipment that included an infrared thermal imaging device and a radar life detector.

He Jun, head of the team, said that together with local rescuers, they pulled two people who showed no vital signs, including a child, out of the rubble at around 9 am on Thursday at another location.

"The casualties are heavy here. Look at the ruins. Buildings have collapsed badly," he said, before rushing to another place on the instruction of the local emergency authority.

Cui Yazhou from the Amity Foundation, an NGO based in Jiangsu province, said he arrived in Istanbul with another team member at around 2 am on Thursday. More than 120 rescue workers from Blue Sky Rescue team, a nonprofit organization, arrived with them.

Cui said airport personnel greeted them on arrival and guided them to a flight chartered by the Turkish government to take them to quake-hit regions. He said some Turkish passengers in the airport greeted them with applause.

The team was also given priority baggage check-in when they departed from Wuhan, Hubei province. They also received blessings and support from airline stewardess as well as Chinese and foreign passengers on the flight to Turkiye.

"This makes us feel that a humanitarian spirit exists in the blood of all people, no matter which country they are from or what religion they believe," he said.

The Ministry of Commerce is preparing disaster relief materials urgently needed in Turkiye and Syria and arranging transportation, said Shu Jueting, a ministry spokeswoman, at a news conference on Thursday. "We will strive to transport the materials to the affected areas as soon as possible."

China has announced it will provide 40 million yuan ($5.9 million) in emergency aid to Turkiye and 30 million yuan to Syria.

Shu said the ministry is also accelerating the implementation of an ongoing food aid program to Syria. About 220 metric tons of wheat has been sent to the country and more than 3,000 tons of wheat and rice will be shipped very soon, she said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Mao Ning said rescue specialists from the Red Cross Society of China left Beijing for Syria on Thursday morning. The team carried 5,000 sets of medical supplies with them.

houliqiang@chinadaily.com.cn

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