Turkey

Turkish Red Crescent Society prepared for deadly quake

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News and Press Release
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Written by Mason Anderson, Staff Writer, RedCross.org
The Turkish Red Crescent Society is coordinating relief efforts from its Emergency Operations Center (Turkish acronym, AFOM) in the capital city of Ankara after a strong earthquake struck central Turkey Sunday (Feb. 3).

The magnitude-6.0 quake, which occurred at 9:11 am local time (7:11 GMT) and was followed by numerous aftershocks, killed 43 people and injured hundreds. The quake's epicenter rattled the province of Afyon, where the Sultandagi and Cay districts were reported to have been among the worst hit areas. In all, more than 600 buildings were damaged or destroyed by the temblor.

"The Turkish Red Crescent was prepared to respond to this earthquake," said Ian O'Donnell, an American Red Cross delegate stationed in Turkey. "They have the situation under control."

Within two hours of the quake, the Red Crescent sent relief supplies such as blankets and tents to the affected area. To date, 7,250 tents, 24,000 blankets, 4,500 heaters, and 18 mobile kitchens have been delivered to Sultandagi and Cay. More than 85 relief workers have responded thus far, including an emergency health team of three doctors and six nurses with ambulances.

"The Red Crescent's Disaster Operations Center (AFOM) has been a central hub for information and resource deployment. The response effort has been smoother than past operations," explained O'Donnell.

In August 2001, TRCS unveiled its new state-of-the-art operation center AFOM. The American Red Cross provided support and expertise in the development of AFOM as part of its long-term assistance and recovery efforts in response to the devastating earthquakes that shook the region in August and November 1999, which killed more than 18,000 people. The AFOM, outfitted with the latest in relief technology, was modeled after the American Red Cross Disaster Operations Center in Falls Church, Virginia, from where relief operations are coordinated in the United States.

"The American Red Cross has been helping the Red Crescent plan for disasters by developing response plans, training relief workers and prepositioning essential relief items like tents and blankets. The development of a central hub for relief operations was a natural step in the process, allowing for greater coordination between the Red Crescent and local authorities to ensure that those who need assistance are getting it," said O'Donnell. "Turkey is a disaster-prone country, but this is the first major disaster that has occurred in Turkey since the 1999 earthquakes so it's the first time that a disaster relief operation will fully operate from beginning to end from AFOM."

Two major components of the Turkish Red Crescent Society's response to Sunday's temblor include hot meal stations and medical services. "Turkish Red Crescent workers have established fixed feeding sites where people are served hot meals. Red Crescent doctors and nurses are providing high quality medical service to people who otherwise may not be able to afford medical care, " explained Olga Bellido de Luna, an American Red Cross delegate who participated on a Red Cross Red Crescent assessment team shortly after the disaster happened.

Many people whose homes were damaged or destroyed don't have the means to find another place to stay. Combine this with the fear -- people whose homes weren't damaged would rather sleep outdoors in fear of being trapped inside their homes in another earthquake - and you have a tremendous amount of people sleeping out side despite the extreme winter cold. Turkish Red Crescent workers have been distributing winterized tents, blankets and heaters to help provide shelter to the affected families. More relief items are being mobilized for distribution and psychosocial outreach teams are on stand-by.

Lessons were learned following the devastating quakes in 1999, which overwhelmed much of the local, regional and national Turkish response capacity. After last Sunday's (Feb. 3) quake, the government immediately set up a crisis center and announced that it would be sending thousands of tents and blankets to the affected region. Neighboring Greece, which has traditionally had a tense relationship with Turkey, offered to send its own workers to help with search and rescue efforts.

The Turkish Red Crescent also learned lessons about response and preparedness. Following the 1999 quakes, they requested assistance in disaster response and planning from the American Red Cross to better prepare for the future. An American Red Cross office was established in Turkey to work closely with Red Crescent staff in areas of disaster preparedness. Turkish Red Crescent disaster relief workers benefited from technical exchanges with American disaster response experts in addition to assistance with long-term planning and training. The organizations signed a partnership agreement in 2000 to further develop a relationship committed to helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters.

This project is part of the American Red Cross' overall emergency response strategy to not only provide effective and timely disaster relief to communities in need, but to also assist our partner national societies with their own disaster preparedness plans, enabling them to respond quickly and efficiently to future disasters.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is provided at no cost, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. The Red Cross also supplies nearly half of the nation's lifesaving blood. This, too, is made possible by generous voluntary donations. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. To donate blood, please call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543), or contact your local Red Cross to find out about upcoming blood drives.

© Copyright 2001 The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.

American Red Cross
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is provided at no cost, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. The Red Cross also supplies nearly half of the nation's lifesaving blood. This, too, is made possible by generous voluntary donations. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. To donate blood, please call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543), or contact your local Red Cross to find out about upcoming blood drives. © Copyright, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.