Czech firefighters depart for Turkey to help search for earthquake survivors

Following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that left over 1,300 dead, the Czech Republic is sending its urban search-and-rescue unit to help search debris.


Written by ČTK Published on 06.02.2023 13:12:00 (updated on 06.02.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Foreign Ministry confirmed today that Turkey has accepted its offer of help in the search for survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit the country early Monday morning.

A 68-member Czech urban search and rescue (USAR) squad comprised of firefighters will depart to Turkey to assist with the recovery efforts this afternoon, the ministry tweeted.

Czech politicians took to social media Monday to offer condolences to the people and leaders of Turkey and Syria, in the wake of the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake which left 1,300 people dead in those countries.

President Miloš Zeman reached out to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as the Syrian people on Monday, expressing his deep sorrow for the victims and wishing the injured a quick recovery, the Presidential Office said on its site.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky have also expressed their condolences to all those afflicted by the tragic natural disaster.

The earthquake, which hit Turkey and neighboring Syria in the early hours of Monday morning, has claimed more than 1,200 lives, over 900 in Turkey and more than 320 in Syria. Thousands of people were injured.

"A high number of fatalities have been registered and many people are reported missing. We are thinking of the victims and sending help," Interior Minister Vít Rakušan tweeted.

Czech humanitarian organization People in Need has launched a public fundraiser in aid of those affected by the earthquake in Turkey and north Syria. Contributions can be sent to bank account 51945194/0300. The organization has donated CZK 1 million to the fundraiser. Caritas Czech Republic has contributed CZK 300,000 from its crisis fund; donations can be sent to bank account 55660022/0800 (variable identifier 118).

The USAR rescue team is focused on rescuing people from debris in residential areas, operating, for instance, in the Lebanese capital of Beirut after explosions in the port in 2020, in which some 200 people died and about 6,000 were injured. Dog handlers, structural engineers, and physicians typically participate in USAR missions.

The Czech Foreign Ministry has no information about any Czechs being among the earthquake casualties. A group of Czechs in one of the quake-hit Turkish provinces is unharmed.

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