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Turkish Red Crescent Rushes in to Help After Strong Quake Hits Turkey

A deadly earthquake hit the country of Turkey Sunday and Turkish Red Crescent responders rushed to the scene to reach people trapped in the rubble, as well as support the immediate needs of those left homeless by the quake.

The 7.2 quake is the most powerful to hit Turkey in more than ten years. It was centered in a remote, mountainous area. The hardest hit cities are Ercis, a city of 75,000 close to the Iranian border and Van. The Turkish government has confirmed that more than 250 people have been killed with hundreds still missing and more than 1,000 injured. Temperatures are close to freezing at night, increasing the harshness of conditions for survivors and those involved in the rescue.

The Turkish government response includes providing more than 1,200 search and rescue personnel, 174 vehicles, nearly 300 health officials, 43 ambulances, and six air ambulances on duty in the affected area.

Rescue workers work to save people trapped under debris after an earthquake in Ercis, near the eastern Turkish city of Van, early October 24, 2011. REUTERS/Umit Bektas. Courtesy

The Turkish Red Crescent has mobilized resources to support those affected, sending over 100 responders. Tent camps have been established for those whose homes have been destroyed or who are afraid to re-enter their homes in the wake of numerous aftershocks. The Turkish Red Crescent has sent in more than 12,000 tents and 25,000 blankets, as well as food and clean water, kitchen sets, heaters, sleeping bags, and other supplies. Psychologists and social service specialists have been deployed to the affected regions to provide emotional support services for those who lost their relatives and who have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder due to the quake.

Turkey has not appealed for international aid. The Turkish Red Crescent is one of the largest disaster response organizations in Europe and has prepared extensively to respond to large earthquakes. The American Red Cross is closely monitoring the situation should assistance be needed.

The American Red Cross has worked with the Turkish Red Crescent for more than a decade, providing support following major earthquakes as well as supporting initiatives to strengthen disaster preparedness. Both are part of the global Red Cross network. The Red Crescent is used in place of the Red Cross in many Islamic countries.