Turkey: Earthquake IFRC Preliminary appeal No. 19/99


At the request of the Turkish Red Crescent, the International Federation is appealing for contributions in support of the Society's emergency relief operation in aid of victims of the earthquake that struck the west of the country earlier today (Tuesday). This preliminary appeal will be followed by a full appeal once needs assessments have been completed and more detailed information becomes available. The Turkish government has declared a state of emergency and requested international assistance

The Disaster

A strong earthquake struck western Turkey at 03.02 hours local time today (Tuesday). Its epicentre was near Izmit, an industrial town 104 kilometres east of Istanbul. Preliminary recordings of the earthquake's strength by different monitoring centres put its magnitude at between 6.8 and 7.8 on the Richter scale. The tremor was felt as far away as Ankara, the Turkish capital, some 500 kilometres to the east.

No official figures on the numbers affected are available as yet. Unconfirmed reports indicate that there are up to 2,000 dead and many more injured; the number of homeless already stands at tens of thousands.

With the quake striking a heavily populated area when most people were sleeping, the casualty figures can be expected to climb, since the rescue operation is still under way and bodies continue to be recovered from the ruins.

The Response so far

Government Action

As with similar emergencies in the past, Turkish government agencies, including the military and civil authorities, are coordinating the rescue and relief operation.

Red Cross/Red Crescent Action

The Turkish Red Crescent already has four rescue and relief teams in the affected area, including emergency medical personnel and specialised equipment for retrieving victims and establishing first aid posts in the affected area. These teams are working with the police, the military and civil defence personnel on searching the rubble for survivors and evacuating the injured. Turkish Red Crescent volunteers and staff are very experienced at responding to these types of disaster. The society owns its own tent factory and is already setting up shelters for the homeless and those wary about returning to their houses, even if they appear undamaged.

The International Federation has released CHF 250,000 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund and has assigned its head of delegation from Skopje, Macedonia to work with the National Society, supported by an information delegate and a senior liaison delegate, based in Ankara.

Throughout the day, a number of Red Cross Red Crescent national societies have been in touch with the International Federation Secretariat in Geneva, with offers of support.


Since the onset of the emergency the International Federation has been in close contact with the Turkish Red Crescent and will work closely with the National Society to coordinate all international Red Cross Red Crescent assistance. The Turkish government, which has declared a state of emergency and is requesting international assistance, is co-ordinating relief, from national to local level; the Turkish Red Crescent is ensuring that its relief operation is co-ordinated with national and local efforts.

The Intended Operation

Assessment of Needs

Turkish Red Crescent relief officials are surveying the affected area and expect to have a reasonably complete picture of the situation and the main needs very shortly. As indicated above, the Society has long and strong experience of these types of disaster and has developed wide ranging disaster preparedness programme, well stocked emergency warehouses and trained volunteers. However, in a preliminary communication, it has requested the urgent deployment of two field hospitals and the International Federation is looking to assign Emergency Response Units to meet this need. Cash to maintain the supply of tents and blankets - and replace existing stocks - is also needed

Turkish Red Crescent Capacity

Emergency relief is one of the main services of the Turkish Red Crescent. It has extensive experience in this area and owns, inter alia, seven warehouses, 22 blood banks, nine blood stations and one nursing school; in addition, there is a vehicle maintenance unit and a tent workshop at the central warehouse in Ankara. An extensive branch network can call on transport, rescue equipment and relief stocks. The Society employs nearly 2,000 staff at its directorate general.

Red Cross Red Crescent Objectives

In this initial stage of the relief operation, the first priority is to immediately provide adequate funds to the Turkish Red Crescent to enable it to go ahead with purchasing urgently needed relief items. All the supplies required can be purchased locally.

Turkish Red Crescent disaster preparedness stocks; and to enhance and improve still further, the Society's capacity to respond to disaster situations.

Budget summary

See Annex 1 for details.


This is the most destructive earthquake to hit Turkey for many years, with deaths, damage and casualties likely to exceed the country's last major quake in 1992. This disaster has left tens of thousands of people in urgent need of emergency assistance. Donors are urged to respond rapidly with cash donations, to enable the Turkish Red Crescent to continue to respond to the needs of the injured and homeless. All contributions should be made to the International Federation, in its coordinating capacity for all Red Cross Red Crescent international assistance.

Margareta Wahlström
Under Secretary General,
Disaster Response & Operations Coordination

George Weber
Secretary General

This and other reports on Federation operations are available on the Federation's website: http://www.ifrc.org