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Ukraine shares pain, tragedy of quake-hit Turkish people, says Ukrainian rescue team chief

Scenes from last week's twin earthquakes that shook southern Türkiye and neighboring countries struck Ukrainians as familiar as they continue fighting a devastating war with Russia.

"Pain has no color, race, or religion. We share the pain and tragedy of the Turkish people," said Konstantin Silayev, who heads a Ukrainian team of 77 rescuers and 10 search and rescue dogs in Hatay, one of the 10 provinces hit worst by the Feb. 6 earthquakes.

Nothing that his team trained for could have prepared them for such a situation, Silayev told Anadolu, adding: "Unfortunately we had to use our skills not only in exercises, but also in real events."

"Very familiar frames. We saw collapsed buildings on the road and people stuck in the street," he said. "There is a similar picture in our country right now."

'This is how we show gratitude'

Silayev said his team's work on the ground was "a little thank you" to Türkiye for Ankara's support to Ukraine amid the war with Russia.

"This is all we can do to show our gratitude for the support and assistance Türkiye provided us at the beginning of the war," he said. "Just a little thank you."

"As I said, the scene we encountered is very familiar. I understand how much of a pain this is. It's terrible that things like this happen, that people lose their lives, that such large-scale destruction happens," he continued.

Silayev, who has been working in the district of Antakya in Hatay, stressed that the entire city was falling into rubble and underlined the importance of working together to get through the current situation.

"Pain unites," he stated.

'Turkish people tried to help us in every way'

Amid their rescue work, local people made every effort to help the Ukrainian team, Silayev said. This included physical assistance, "whether it's tea or food, when we took a break on the way, people were coming to us and giving us treats," he added.

He described one instance when Turkish people brought them water and even supplied the Ukrainian vehicles with gasoline when they stopped at a gas station on their way to reach their work site.

At least 35,418 people were killed and 105,500 others injured in the two powerful earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye on Feb. 6, according to the latest official figures.

The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 earthquakes were felt by 13 million people across 10 provinces in Türkiye and also affected several countries in the region.

As a result of the earthquakes, at least 3,688 people lost their lives in different parts of Syria.

Acting in coordination with Turkish disaster agency AFAD, the team continues to support search and rescue efforts in the region.

In Antakya, the center of Hatay, a woman in her 30s was rescued from the rubble approximately 205 hours after the earthquake on Tuesday with work supported by the Ukrainian team. The team has been participating in search and rescue efforts for about a week.

Source: Anadolu Agency