8 February 2023
By Hamza Saeed
As Turkey’s death toll increases drastically, and the body count rises, Pakistan has begun sending its humanitarian aid, despite still reeling from its own situation of dealing with the devastating floods across the country, where tens of thousands have been killed and millions have been displaced.
Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahbaz Sharif, has announced the establishment of a relief fund to help the victims of Turkey’s deadly earthquake. Information Minister of Pakistan, Marriyum Aurangzeb, took to Twitter to confirm the establishment of the PM Relief Fund and said that the federal cabinet has decided to contribute a month’s salary towards the fund.
The Prime Minister has also appealed to philanthropists to extend their help.
The spokesperson of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) said that the first batch of relief items from Pakistan arrived in Turkey on Tuesday, February 7.
A Deadly Disaster
The earthquake of magnitude 7.8 near the Turkey-Syrian border took place in the early hours of Monday, initially killing at least 5000 people, but now the death toll has gone over 11,000 with thousands injured. In Antakya, near the Syrian border, 10-story buildings were seen crumbling onto the streets.
The earthquake was followed by numerous aftershocks, including one that was almost as huge as the quake itself. To worsen the situation, rescue efforts have been hampered by the freezing winter weather and rain.
Pakistan Sends Aid
In response to Turkey’s own aid for Pakistanis in the deadly October 2005 earthquake, Pakistan has been collecting charity. On October 9, 2005, Turkey sent search-and-rescue teams and humanitarian aid to Pakistan in response to the devastating earthquake that had struck the country. Four planes from the Turkish Armed Forces were deployed, carrying 93 rescue workers, medical personnel, and aid equipment, including food, medicine, and two ambulances.
The Turkish Red Crescent also provided food, baby food, and body bags. The aid group Lighthouse Association also sent $100,000 in aid.
The Pakistan Air Force has sent a C-130 Hercules aircraft carrying search and rescue teams and blankets. Two contingents, consisting of urban search and rescue teams, medical teams, and relief items, were also sent. The contingents will stay on in Turkey until the completion of the relief and rescue operation. The aid is being coordinated with the Turkish government and its Embassy in Islamabad.
Minister for Railways, Khawaja Saad Rafique, announced that a Pakistan International Airline (PIA) airplane will take a 51-member rescue team to Istanbul and that the delivery of relief goods will be cost-free on all PIA flights to Istanbul and Damascus.
Local NGOs like The Alkhidmat Foundation, in collaboration with Turkish organizations, is providing aid to the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. Hot meals, blankets, mattresses, and shelter tents are being distributed, and a seven-member medical team has been sent to the affected areas.