International aid pours into Turkey after quake
August 18, 1999
ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- International relief supplies began to pour into earthquake-stricken Turkey on Wednesday as rescuers continued to seek survivors of a Tuesday quake that killed thousands.
Turkey's government appealed for international help after the massive earthquake, which was estimated at a magnitude of 7.8. Emergency workers began to arrive from several countries, including the United States, Israel, Russia and Japan, to help the search for survivors and the recovery of the dead.
"Gradually, of course, there is also the need for basic and advanced medical supplies, field hospitals and certain humanitarian items," said Huseyin Dirioz, Turkey's charge d'affaires in the United States.
"Efforts to put down that fire is continuing, and of course expert assistance -- expert firefighting -- is a top priority," Dirioz said.
But Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said many rescue workers had not yet reached quake-hit areas because of damaged roads and communications networks.
Japan offered $300,000 in emergency financial aid to help earthquake victims and sent 37 rescue workers and firefighters. Russia sent a contingent of 90, while Israel offered the largest group -- a 200-member mercy mission, including a special rescue team with search dogs.
U.S. President Bill Clinton pledged to help NATO ally Turkey through "this terrible crisis," and more than 2,500 U.S. troops based in southern Turkey at the Incirlik air base may be called on to help.
A U.S. military plane left for Turkey on Wednesday carrying about 70 rescue experts from the suburbs of Washington. Members of the team have participated in similar search-and- rescue operations in Armenia and Kenya in recent years.
"Based on what I've seen on the TV, there's still a lot of work to do, and there's a lot of possibility that we can still make live rescues in Turkey when we get there," said Ed Stinette, chief of the Fairfax County Fire Department in Virginia.
Britain sent 40 firefighters and search-and-rescue specialists equipped with thermal imaging cameras. Denmark sent a crew of 16, and Slovenia contributed a national civil defense rescue team with 10 search dogs.
Even Turkey's longtime antagonist Greece sent teams of rescuers and three planes loaded with aid to help bring survivors out of the ruins.
Other countries and organizations offered financial assistance.
The European Commission pledged 2 million euros ($2.11 million) in humanitarian aid, while the Dutch government offered about $360,000 for emergency shelters, hospitals, water and sanitary equipment and communications. Britain's International Development Minister George Foulkes announced a 500,000-pound ($800,000) grant to Turkey's Red Crescent, the sister organization to the Red Cross.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday he was saddened by the loss of life, and he promised all possible assistance. A U.N. disaster assessment team was due in Turkey to help coordinate international rescue workers.
Jennifer Dunlap, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, said reconstruction efforts in Turkey could last at least a year.
"The immediate needs on the ground within the first 24 to 48 hours obviously are the search and rescue efforts that are going on now," Dunlap said. "Right now you have people afraid to go back into their homes -- they're scared, they don't know what's coming next.
"They have need for shelter, they have need for food and soon they're going to have need for some sort counseling to help them through situation," she said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Stunned Turks dig for earthquake survivors
DISASTER RELIEF SITES:
Doctors Without Borders
News from Turkey
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