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Thursday, July 25, 2024

2 injured Filipinos in Turkey now safe, PH community gets relief

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The Philippine Embassy in Turkey on Thursday began bringing aid to Filipinos affected by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria earlier this week.

Philippine Ambassador to Turkey Maria Elena Algabre said the embassy promised not to lose hope as it begins its quest to reach out to Filipinos there.

“Mindful of current regulations implemented by the Turkish government, the embassy has successfully begun its initial mission to the affected provinces in southeast Turkey, in coordination with Turkish authorities,” the embassy said, in a statement.

“The ambassador is personally leading the embassy team to meet with as many Filipinos as able and practicable, subject to the conditions of surrounding infrastructure and ongoing local operations”, it added.

Thankful that two injured Filipinos have been recovered, the embassy said that it “continuously receives a steady stream of confirmed and unconfirmed reports of Filipinos experiencing varying degrees of distress.”

“We are thankful that a number of our kababayan (countrymen) are safe and we will not give up hope for those that cannot yet be contacted.

The embassy will act swiftly and decisively for all confirmed reports”, the statement said.

The team has already met with Filipinos from the cities of Adana and Iskenderun, the latter being one of the most devastated areas in Turkey’s Hatay Province.

They distributed relief goods, including food, blankets, water, and cash.

By working with the Filipino community, the embassy said it was able to send a team to rescue four Filipinos from Adana to the safer city of Mersin.

“We are continuing to utilize our invaluable network of Filipino community leaders from across the country to get in touch with those in need . . . We deeply appreciate the relief goods that continue to be provided through generosity of our Filipino brethren in Turkey,” it added.

The Philippine contingent deployed to help victims of the Feb. 6 magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Turkey arrived in Istanbul on Thursday noon. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)

“Our response team just confirmed that they landed in Istanbul. Our OCD (Office of Civil Defense) representative messaged at 12:08 p.m. (PST) that they landed,” said OCD joint information center head Diego Agustin Mariano in a message to reporters.

He added that the Philippine contingent departed from Manila for Istanbul around midnight.

These personnel were aboard Turkish Airlines Flight TK 85.

The Filipino contingent consisted of 85 personnel, of which 33 are from the Armed Forces of the Philippines; 21 from the Army’s 525th Engineer Combat Battalion, 51st Engineer Brigade; and 12 from the Air Force 505th Search and Rescue Group.

The contingent also includes two people from the OCD, 10 from the Metro Manila Development Authority, nine from the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, and 31 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) from the Department of Health.

Earlier, Defense officer-in-charge Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said they aimed for this team to rely on their own and not be a burden to the host country.

The contingent will also bring goods to be donated to the quake victims. These goods include clothing and sleeping kits for winter, and hygiene and sanitary kits, which will be provided by the OCD, together with the private sector and local government units.

A Filipina who was presumed dead in the Turkish province of Hatay was found alive days after a 7.8-magnitude hit the country, a Filipino community leader reported Thursday.

“One compatriot of ours has been found alive and recovered after being confirmed dead by her employer earlier,” Cherry Santos, president of the Filipino community in Ankara, told radio dzMM.

Citing information from their network of Filipinos in the affected areas, Santos said the Filipina was inside a building in Hatay when the temblor reduced structures to rubble in 10 Turkish provinces on Monday.

She was with three other Filipinos who are still missing, Santos said.

More than 13 million people in Turkey and Syria were affected by the massive earthquake, with a multitude of people still trapped under the rubble.

The death toll in affected areas is also climbing by the hour and has reached more than 11,000, based on United Nations figures.

The UN said more than 40 urban search and rescue teams from Turkey and 19 countries, with about 80,000 responders and 160 search dogs, have been mobilized as of Feb. 8.

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