We never cease to witness sincere Chinese support during earthquakes: Turkish Ambassador
Published: Feb 14, 2023 09:40 PM
Turkish Ambassador to China Abdulkadir Emin ?nen Photo: Courtesy of Turkish Embassy in China

Turkish Ambassador to China Abdulkadir Emin ?nen Photo: Courtesy of Turkish Embassy in China

We haven't ceased witnessing the sincere support of the Chinese people since the earthquake. They are continuously sending us offers of help in a moving spirit of solidarity with the Turkish people, Turkish Ambassador to China Abdulkadir Emin Önen told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.

Since the two massive earthquakes rocked the country, the Chinese government and NGOs have rushed to Turkey to join earthquake relief efforts. On Chinese social media platforms, ordinary Chinese people also showed sympathy and many made donations to the efforts through the Turkish Embassy in China.

At Monday's regular media briefing, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin introduced that the first shipment of relief supplies provided by the Chinese government to Turkey, including blankets and tents urgently needed in the quake-hit areas, arrived in Istanbul on February 11 and 12. The China Rescue Team dispatched by the Chinese government and civil emergency response teams have rescued more than 20 survivors. Electrocardiogram machines, ultrasonic diagnostics, medical transport vehicles, and manual hospital beds provided by China will be delivered within the week. 

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes that happened last Monday have affected more than 13 million people across 10 provinces in Turkey. At least 29,605 people were killed in the earthquakes in Turkey, according to media reports. 

Önen noted that what exacerbated the situation was that people were caught by the deadly earthquakes in their sleep. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out that these devastating earthquakes are "one of the biggest natural disasters [of] our time."

"We are grateful to see China being among the first countries to offer assistance and dispatch teams supporting our humanitarian aid operations," said Önen.

Now several Chinese rescue teams are on the scene to save as many lives as possible. The China Search and Rescue Team consisting of 82-member arrived in Turkey on Wednesday. 

"I personally attended the send-off ceremony at the Beijing Capital International Airport and thanked the rescuers while wishing them a safe trip. Additionally, civil society search and rescue teams from various parts of China sent rescue teams to Turkey. We are very glad to learn that they have already rescued several earthquake victims, including a pregnant woman and children," Önen told the Global Times. 

Several non-government rescue teams including the Blue Sky Rescue Team and Pinglan Public Welfare Fund are also actively participating in the rescue mission in Turkey with rescue teams from other countries. 

Members from Blue Sky Rescue brought with them an earthquake rescue and alarm system. The system was developed by the Chengdu-based Institute Care-Life, the China Earthquake Administration, and other laboratories. It can automatically connect to rescue workers' interphones before destructive secondary waves arrive and warn them to leave, according to an explanation of how the system works sent to the Global Times by the Institute of Care-Life.

This is the first time this system is being used in disaster relief outside of China, said the institute.

On China's various social media platforms including Sina Weibo and WeChat, people also actively showed support through cash and kind, or other ways to support the affected people. The Turkish Embassy in China has also opened channels for people to make donations. 

According to Önen, in order to facilitate the process to ensure that the humanitarian aid provided directly and speedily reaches victims in need, they made an announcement through their Embassy as well as their Consulate Generals, providing information about logistics for such assistance. 

"We have already received a large number of applications so far and we continue our efforts to deliver these forms of aid to our country in the fastest and safest way possible," he said. 

"Witnessing the solidarity among our nations, we have every reason to believe that Turkish-Chinese relations will continue to flourish in the period ahead," he stressed. 

"Currently around 6.479 rescue personnel from friendly countries, including China, have joined our efforts to save lives in the disaster area."

According to the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), more than 120,344 search and rescue personnel are currently working on the field, despite harsh winter conditions. 

To speed up search and rescue operations, Turkey declared a three-month-long state of emergency in its quake-hit provinces. Turkey is also currently observing seven days of national mourning as a sign of respect to those who perished during the devastating quakes, according to the ambassador.