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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Earthquake victims rescued by Korean relief workers

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Members of the Korea Disaster Relief Team (KDRT) rescue a child who had been trapped inside a collapsed building in Antakya, Hatay, Thursday after a massive earthquake in Turkey earlier this week. [FOREIGN MINISTRY]
The Korea Disaster Relief Team (KDRT) rescued its first earthquake victims in Hatay, Turkey on Thursday, said Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Korean rescue personnel began relief activities at around 5 a.m. local time Thursday and were dispatched to search for survivors at a high school in Antakya, the capital of the southern province of Hatay, one of the areas hit hardest by the earthquake earlier this week.

The first survivor rescued, a man in his mid-70s, was conscious and appeared to be in good health, said the Foreign Ministry in a statement. Four deaths were confirmed in the area where the survivor was rescued.

The rescued man was being treated by the Korean military’s medical staff.

Later that morning, two more people were rescued by the team, a two-year-old girl and her 40-year-old father, in the ruins of a five-story building, according to the KDRT.

The father and daughter showed symptoms of dehydration and their body temperatures were low but were in overall good health.

A 35-year-old woman was also rescued soon afterwards. She was later confirmed to be unrelated to the father-daughter pair and suffered from a fractured finger.

The team continued rescue operations to find the remaining family members in the building, reportedly children. A baby was found dead. The Foreign Ministry later said a 10-year-old girl was also rescued and that she is in stable condition.

Korean disaster relief workers are searching the area around the base camp with the assistance of two rescue dogs, according to a Foreign Ministry official Thursday. The team’s relief activities are initially set for around 10 days.

On Wednesday, Korea’s 118-member disaster relief team arrived in Turkey on a KC-330 military tanker transport aircraft to join in global rescue efforts at the request of the Turkish government.

The Korea Disaster Relief Team (KDRT) rescues a man in his 70s from rubbles in Hatay, Turkey Thursday. [FOREIGN MINISTRY]

The team included rescue professionals from the National Fire Agency and Korea International Cooperation Agency, officials from the Foreign Ministry and some 50 military personnel.

The team also delivered emergency relief supplies.

Korea dispatched rescue personnel after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria on Monday, killing more than 12,000 people.

On Wednesday evening, Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin talked on the phone with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and pledged to provide “all possible support” to Turkey in assisting its recovery from the earthquake.

Park expressed his deep condolences to Turkey and said the Korean people stand in solidarity with the Turkish people.

Cavusoglu replied that he appreciates the active support from Korea, a “brother nation” of Turkey, and promised to ensure the safety of Korean nationals in his country.

President Yoon Suk Yeol visited the Korean Embassy in Turkey in central Seoul Thursday afternoon to pay condolences to the victims of the earthquake, said Lee Do-woon, the presidential spokesman, in a briefing.

“Korea will do its best to help the Turkish people overcome setbacks and sadness and rise up again,” Yoon was quoted as saying as he offered condolences to Ambassador Murat Tamer.

Tamer thanked Yoon and said he feels a “brotherly love” toward Korea, according to Lee.

Yoon told the ambassador, “I received a report from our rescue team dispatched to Antakya that although the local situation is very dire and difficult, we will do our best to carry out rescue activities.”

He added that Korea plans to send additional rescuers to rotate the current team if necessary.

Yoon expressed “great joy” after hearing the news of the first rescued victim, said Lee, and offered words of encouragement and appreciation to the Korean rescue team in Turkey.

Yoon and his office also raised 32.61 million won ($25,000) as a part of a national fundraising campaign to help the victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. The fund was delivered to the Korean Red Cross on Thursday, according to the presidential office.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, expresses his condolences to Turkish Ambassador to Korea Murat Tamer after the devastating earthquake in Turkey earlier this week at the Turkish Embassy in Seoul on Thursday. [PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE]
BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]