Australia Sends Search Teams to Turkey Earthquake Zone

Australia is sending emergency services personnel to earthquake-hit regions in Turkey. The group of 72 includes fire and rescue specialists, mostly from New South Wales state. Monday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkey and neighboring Syria has killed an estimated 24,000 people and injured many more.

Time is running out for rescuers trying to reach victims trapped in freezing conditions under rubble following Monday’s earthquake in southeastern Turkey and northeastern Syria.

Australia is the latest country to send specialist search and rescue teams as well as medical staff and engineers. It is also sending 22 metric tons of emergency equipment, including first aid supplies, cameras, and underground listening equipment to allow them to search for survivors. The United States, China and India have also sent disaster response teams.

In a statement Friday, Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said she extended her country’s “condolences to families and communities that have lost loved ones, and those whose lives and livelihoods have been affected.”

Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.  Friday that the country is eager to help.

“I would like to think that by Australia playing a role, we might be able to save a few more lives,” Watt said. “Obviously with every day that goes by, it becomes less and less likely that there will be survivors, but these are really highly trained expert personnel from Australia, and I am really proud that Australia is playing a role, and I really thank those emergency personnel for being willing to go and do it.”

Several Australian citizens are reported missing in the earthquake zone.  At least two have been killed.  

Community groups and aid organizations in Australia, including Muslim charities and mosques, have set up fundraising campaigns to help victims of the earthquake that has left millions homeless in Turkey and Syria.

The government has committed $7 million in aid that will be distributed through the Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies. 

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