China rushes rescue teams to quake-hit Türkiye, Syria

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China has offered an array of rescue teams and vital items to Türkiye and Syria since massive earthquakes and aftershocks jolted the countries on Monday, in an effort to help search for survivors trapped under the rubble.

Members from the Chinese Rescue Team of Ramunion conduct rescue work in Belen, Türkiye, Feb. 9, 2023. The Chinese Rescue Team of Ramunion, working with local partners, have successfully rescued a family including 2 adults and 3 children on Thursday in Belen, Türkiye. (Rescue Team of Ramunion/Handout via Xinhua)

Türkiye's disaster management agency updated the country's death toll late Friday from the earthquakes to 20,213, bringing the total fatalities with neighboring Syria to over 23,000, with tens of thousands injured.

International aid is pouring in amid ongoing rescue efforts.

Here's a look at the Chinese rescue teams performing rescue missions in Türkiye and Syria:

An 82-member Chinese rescue team arrived at Türkiye's Adana Sakirpasa Airport on Wednesday morning, carrying over 20 tons of equipment for rescue, communication and medical purposes, and four rescue dogs.

After driving for hours, the team arrived in the southern Turkish province of Hatay near the epicenter and carried out search and rescue operations in two areas as arranged by the local authorities.

Having saved a trapped pregnant woman on Thursday, the Chinese rescuers, with their Turkish colleagues, later pulled out two survivors from the ruins in Antakya, a city in Hatay.

On Friday, following a three-hour effort, a woman, the fourth survivor saved by Chinese rescuers, was pulled out to safety from the rubble of collapsed buildings over 96 hours after the earthquake.

The Chinese team was called to the scene after their Turkish counterparts discovered signs of life when clearing a heap of building ruins. During the operation, the team squeezed a flexible endoscope camera through small gaps in rubble to survey the condition beneath and worked with Turkish rescuers to demolish the surface of buried areas.

The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) dispatched on Thursday morning a team of rescuers, with its first batch of medical supplies, to assist earthquake relief in war-torn Syria.

At the request of the Syrian Embassy and the Syrian Red Crescent, the RCSC sent supplies for up to 5,000 people.

Several civil Chinese rescue teams also joined the rescue efforts.

Eight earthquake relief experts from China's Rescue Team of Ramunion arrived in Türkiye on Wednesday from the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, with more personnel from the rescue union expected to arrive in the coming days.

Captain of the team He Jun said that they would use advanced radar life detectors, demolition and rescue equipment and a search dog for the mission.

Members from the Blue Sky Rescue Team, a Chinese civil relief squad, started to assist rescue operations in Malatya province after their arrival on early Thursday, bringing search dogs, emergency items and other necessary resources.

After dozens of hours of working around the clock, an elder woman was successfully rescued by the civil relief squad.

The Amity Foundation, a Chinese non-governmental organization, also sent a team of around 60 members to Türkiye.

The team carried out rescue work and provided aid for quake-affected people, such as distributing clothes and food, improving sanitation, etc.

As of Friday morning, 15 civil Chinese rescue teams comprising 288 personnel had made it to quake-hit regions in Türkiye.

It has been 100 hours since the disaster occurred, and the local temperature remains low, casualty numbers are likely to rise as search-and-rescue efforts span a wide area of 10 Turkish provinces. Experts warned of dimmer chances of finding survivors 72 hours after the quakes. 

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