‘Post-quake situation complex, good attitude need of the hour’

The post-earthquake situation is “complex” but a “good attitude” is the need of the hour, this is how international rehabilitation teams describe the situation in southern Türkiye.

“We need a solution-oriented response,” Axel Schmidt, the team leader of Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Deutschland or ASB, told Anadolu outside Adana Airport where he was waiting for a 15-member team to arrive.

ASB is a German charitable aid agency founded in 1888 and has 200 offices across the country. It also operates in 14 other nations.

Axel is the leader of a four-member ASB team that arrived in Türkiye on Feb. 07, a day after magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 tremors hit Kahramanmaras and nine other provinces – Hatay, Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Malatya, Adana, Diyarbakir, Kilis, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa. More than 13 million people have been affected by the devastating quakes.

At least 35,410 people were killed while thousands of others were injured across the ten provinces which witnessed widespread destruction due to, what experts describe as, the “pancake” collapse of buildings.

“This is a complex situation and we cannot waste time going by the book,” said Schmidt.

“Going by the book will cost us time … we need to respond to the situation on the ground,” he said, lauding “good” coordination and communication with Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

"We have to do the response in a systematic and coordinated way but we have to work solution-orientated and be creative," said Schmidt. "So maybe not going by the books could mean that we are not going with humanitarian principles… we are but we have to find solutions on the spot and we need solution-orientated persons on the ground who are helping responses go swiftly."

"We have very easy communication and working (relation)" with the AFAD, he added.

In the past week, the ASB team visited Kahramanmaras and Hatay provinces where they assessed the ground situation in terms of health and quality of water in the aftermath of earthquakes.

Excited over how the local people responded to their work, Schmidt said: “Despite the (bad) situation, everyone was extending us help and offering us things.”

“We are very happy over how people welcomed us, and how locals are organizing the humanitarian response to the quakes-affected people,” the German humanitarian leader said.

He said local people rushed to fix their car when it broke down during their survey.

Lauding the relentless efforts of Turkish doctors, Schmidt said his team will carry tents, medicine, and objects for water purification in the affected areas in Samandag in Hatay.

Disaster response

According to Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, around 13,208 injured are still receiving treatment in Turkish hospitals including those flown to Ankara and Istanbul cities.

More than 249,000 search and rescue personnel are currently working in the field, said AFAD.

Almost 195,962 people have been evacuated from the quake-hit regions so far, it added.

Condolences have poured in from around the world expressing solidarity with Türkiye, with many countries sending rescue teams and aid.

A total of 9,046 foreign personnel from 82 nations are currently working in the disaster zone, the country's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

It also said that 100 countries had offered assistance so far, with two more expected to send rescue teams.

Besides rescue teams, blankets, tents, food, and psychological support teams, along with over 12,300 vehicles, including excavators, tractors, and bulldozers, were also sent to the affected areas.

President Erdogan said last Friday that the country is facing one of the biggest disasters in its modern history.

Source: Anadolu Agency