Kosovo joined search, rescue after Türkiye quake as ‘payback,’ says rescue team

Kosovo joined in rescue efforts after last week's twin earthquakes in southern Türkiye as "payback" for Ankara's past help to Pristina, the Balkan nation's search and rescue agency said on Wednesday.

Ilir Gaxha, secretary of the Kosovo Search and Rescue Association, spoke to Anadolu at the airport in Hatay province before boarding a return flight back to his country with his group of six, after completing their mission "successfully" in the earthquake zone where they arrived on Feb. 9.

While there, Gaxha said his team had assisted in a rescue and that on Tuesday, they saved the life of a 3-year-old girl by providing first aid.

"It's sad to see the entire city destroyed," said Gaxha, adding that the families of victims under the rubble of destroyed buildings had been asking them to recover the bodies of their dead relatives.

Noting that his team had extracted more than 20 corpses and stopped counting at a certain point, he said they had dug out nine dead bodies on Tuesday alone.

"It was sad to see, for example, in a sleeping bag, a mother and father covering two children, and all four were dead from the earthquake together. It was a terrible story."

"We extracted the son and daughter of a man, and when we handed (the bodies) over to the father, he was crying and weeping. And I still cannot forget the way that he was weeping."

On the rescue of the 3-year-old, Gaxha said the girl was extracted by another team and, assumed to be dead, was left on the sidewalk with the other corpses. Then, one of the Turkish soldiers opened the body bag to see the baby and he saw that the little girl had tears in her eyes, he said.

"We gave CPR for about 25 to 30 minutes until the Turkish ambulance came. There were some young ladies which were in panic when they saw a little child," he said.

"And we were strong, doing this procedure all the time until we got her into the ambulance. And then we were very emotional about having that feeling."

Afterward, when they were told that she was saved, everybody hugged and kissed, Gaxha recounted. "Everybody was so happy. So, it's a feeling that we can’t explain. We’re so proud that we managed to represent our country, and help Türkiye."

He also said it was gratifying to pull out so many dead bodies since people "need to rest their souls."

Source: Anadolu Agency