67.1 F
Los Angeles
Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Korea sending emergency personnel, medicine and aid to Turkey

Must read

- Advertisement -
Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble on Tuesday in Hatay, Turkey, after a powerful quake rocked southeast Turkey and Syria killing thousands of people. [REUTERS/YONHAP]
Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble on Tuesday in Hatay, Turkey, after a powerful quake rocked southeast Turkey and Syria killing thousands of people. [REUTERS/YONHAP]

Korea will send a team of around 110 disaster relief personnel and emergency medical supplies by a military transport aircraft after a devastating earthquake hit Turkey and Syria on Monday.

The government will also provide $5 million in humanitarian aid to Turkey, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday morning, President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered the government to swiftly dispatch rescue workers and deliver emergency medicine and medical supplies to support Turkey.

The instructions came after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria on Monday, followed by several powerful aftershocks, killing more than 5,000 people.

“I express my deep condolences to the people who lost their lives in the earthquake,” Yoon said during a Cabinet meeting at the Sejong government complex.

“Turkey is a brother nation that sent a large number of troops without hesitation when we were invaded by the Communists in 1950 to defend our freedom,” he said, referring to the 1950-53 Korean War, adding it is “only natural” to help the brotherly country “in this time of pain and hardship” and “fulfill our role and responsibility in the international community.”

Yoon instructed his chief of staff Kim Dae-ki and National Security Adviser Kim Sung-han to prepare emergency assistance measures for Turkey ahead of this meeting.

He also called on relevant agencies to cooperate closely with Turkish authorities through Korea’s Foreign Ministry and its diplomatic missions, according to his office.

Yoon conveyed his condolences to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the massive casualties resulting from the earthquake by telegram, promising that “all possible support would be provided for a swift recovery,” the presidential office said.

The Korea Disaster Relief Team with around 60 personnel was set to be dispatched to Turkey, confirmed Kim Eun-hye, senior presidential secretary for press affairs, and the Foreign Ministry later Tuesday.

Another 50 military personnel were expected to join the disaster relief team, which brings the total number of rescue workers to be sent to Turkey to 110, according to a Foreign Ministry official.

President Yoon Suk Yeol orders the government to swiftly dispatch rescue workers and deliver emergency medical supplies to support quake-stricken Turkey in a Cabinet meeting in Sejong Tuesday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]
President Yoon Suk Yeol orders the government to swiftly dispatch rescue workers and deliver emergency medical supplies to support quake-stricken Turkey in a Cabinet meeting in Sejong Tuesday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

The Korean Foreign Ministry said Tuesday afternoon that it had been following up on Yoon’s instructions to mobilize a KC-330 aircraft to transport rescue personnel and emergency medical relief in close cooperation with Turkish authorities.

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Park Jin promptly convened an interagency consultative meeting to discuss emergency relief measures for earthquake victims.

It immediately agreed to send an international disaster relief team including officials from the Foreign Ministry, National Fire Agency and Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) on a military transport aircraft.

“Korea’s emergency relief team will determine the scope of its mission in coordination with the rescue teams of other countries and the United Nations, and will work closely with the Turkish government and the international community,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lim Soo-suk said in a briefing Tuesday afternoon.

The Korean government dispatched a preliminary team of three officials from the Foreign Ministry, the 119 rescue headquarters and Koica to inspect the situation on Monday following a request from the Turkish government.

Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong will oversee the emergency relief efforts for Turkey.

Lim said that the president instructed the Foreign Ministry to further cooperate with relevant agencies to actively devise measures if additional support is needed for Turkey.

He added that support for Syria will be provided as soon as international organizations announce its humanitarian aid needs.

Jeon Ha-gyu, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, confirmed in a briefing Tuesday morning that his ministry was making plans with related agencies to mobilize a military aircraft to transport the rescue workers and aid supplies.

The Korean military mobilized the KC-330 aircraft in the past for other emergency humanitarian assistance operations.

This included the operation to airlift over 390 Afghans who worked with the Korean government over the years and their family members to Korea out of the war-torn country in August 2021.

The National Fire Agency also said Tuesday that it was preparing to dispatch the international disaster relief team to earthquake-hit Turkey to help efforts to search for missing people.

Korea’s international rescue team was formed in 1997.

The government previously dispatched its disaster relief team to aid recovery efforts after a typhoon in the Philippines in 2013, a powerful earthquake in Nepal in 2015 and the dam collapse at the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy project in Laos in 2018.

This will mark the largest disaster relief team dispatched by the government in a single round to date. There were 127 rescue personnel sent to the Philippines in 2013, but they were dispatched in separate rounds.

Members of the Korea Disaster Relief Team gather at the 119 Special Rescue Service headquarters in Namyangju, Gyeonggi, on Tuesday ahead of their departure for Turkey to join international rescue efforts after a devastating earthquake hit Turkey and Syria the previous day. [NEWS1]Members of the Korea Disaster Relief Team gather at the 119 Special Rescue Service headquarters in Namyangju, Gyeonggi, on Tuesday ahead of their departure for Turkey to join international rescue efforts after a devastating earthquake hit Turkey and Syria the previous day. [NEWS1]
Members of the Korea Disaster Relief Team gather at the 119 Special Rescue Service headquarters in Namyangju, Gyeonggi, on Tuesday ahead of their departure for Turkey to join international rescue efforts after a devastating earthquake hit Turkey and Syria the previous day. [NEWS1]

The Foreign Ministry has not confirmed any Korean fatalities following Monday’s earthquake.

A Korean community of around 100 people, mainly missionaries, resides in southwestern Turkey, where the earthquake hit hardest, according to the Korean consulate. Some residents reportedly suffered minor injuries and property was damaged, including a church run by a Korean pastor, Jang Seong-ho.

A Korean student studying at a university in Istanbul, who had traveled alone to the Hatay province, could not be contacted as of Tuesday.

The Korean Embassy in Turkey said it is still trying to make contact with this student, saying it is too early to confirm the person as missing.

“My heart goes out to the people of Turkiye and Syria during this difficult time,” President Yoon wrote in a Facebook post early Tuesday, using the official name of Turkey. “Korea sends our deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. We stand ready to assist Turkiye, a brotherhood forged in blood during the Korean War, in any way possible.”

On Monday, Yoon instructed the presidential National Security Office (NSO) and the Foreign Ministry to come up with active measures to provide humanitarian assistance to Turkey and Iran.

On Jan. 28, Iran was hit by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake, which killed at least three people and injured more than 800.

The Korean government will provide $300,000 in humanitarian aid to Iran for earthquake relief at the request of the United Nations, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]