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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Three more people rescued by Korean emergency response team in Turkey

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Rescuers of the Korea Disaster Relief Team pull out a survivor from the rubble in Antakya, southern Turkey, on Saturday, nearly 72 hours after a massive earthquake hit the region. [YONHAP]
Rescuers dispatched by the Korean government rescued three more people from the rubble in Antakya, southern Turkey, on Saturday, bringing the total number of saved lives to eight, said Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Foreign Ministry identified the latest survivors as a 51-year-old mother and her 17-year-old son, who were pulled out from the same building nearly 72 hours after being struck by a massive earthquake that killed more than 29,000 people and injured tens of thousands of people in Turkey and Syria.

A 65-year-old woman and her husband were pulled out from the rubble earlier that day at a different location, but the husband is believed to have died, said the ministry.

A so-called Korea Disaster Relief Team (KDRT) was dispatched by the Korean government last week to help with rescue operations in Antakya at the request of the Turkish government.

The 118-member team arrived in Turkey on a KC-330 military tanker transport aircraft last Wednesday and is expected to stay until Friday. If further help is needed, the government said it might send another rescue team to Turkey and have the rescuers rotate shifts.

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

The five other survivors rescued by the KDRT since starting rescue operations Thursday were identified as a man in his mid-70s, a 40-year-old man, a 35-year-old woman, a 10-year-old girl and a two-year-old girl.

Eighteen dead bodies were also retrieved.

Donations have been pouring in from all walks of life in Korea, with celebrities and business CEOs encouraging the public to join the global effort.

A fundraising campaign jointly organized by Kakao — the nation’s largest mobile messaging app — the Korean Committee for Unicef and the Community Chest of Korea since last Tuesday has raised more than 2.8 billion won ($2.2 million) as of Sunday.

Kakao founder Kim Beom-su, who’s now chief of the Kakao Future Initiative Center, announced that he would donate 1 billion won through the Community Chest of Korea.

President Yoon Suk Yeol visited the Turkish Embassy in Korea in central Seoul last Thursday to pay his condolences to the victims of the earthquake and donated 32.61 million won as part of a fundraising campaign.

Yoon’s office quoted Turkish Ambassador to Korea Murat Tamer as saying that he felt “brotherly love” toward Korea and thanked the president for the assistance.

Turkey is widely referred to as a “brother country” in Korea for having sent troops during the 1950-53 Korean War. When Yoon’s office announced plans to dispatch the KDRT last week, the president stressed that it was “only natural” for Korea to help the “brother nation” because Turkey didn’t hesitate to send its soldiers to the Korean Peninsula when the South was invaded by the communist North.

Another charity led by volleyball athlete Kim Yeon-koung, who formerly played for a Turkish team, has raised more than 200 million won.

Samsung Electronics donated $3 million, Hyundai Motor donated $2 million, and SK and LG donated $1 million each.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, JEONG JIN-WOO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]