Turkey earthquake prompts outpouring Asia-Pacific aid

TOKYO: Governments across the Asia-Pacific region are offering aid after an earthquake on Monday devastated a vast area of southeastern Turkey and northern Syria.

The total death toll from the magnitude-7.8 quake has surpassed 4,300, according to Turkish state media. Thousands more are reportedly injured, with rescuers still searching the rubble for survivors.

From Japan, an advance team of 18 rescuers departed on Monday night. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced the decision to send relief and expressed his condolences to the victims. Japan plans to dispatch a total of 75 rescuers to Turkey.

Many other governments have shared such sentiments and stepped up to lend a hand, joining countries worldwide.

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese and New Zealand counterpart Chris Hipkins on Tuesday both promised help. Albanese told a joint news conference that Canberra would send “an initial US$10 million in humanitarian assistance to those affected through our Red Cross partners and through humanitarian agencies”, adding that the aid would target “those in greatest need”.

Taiwan dispatched 40 rescuers to Turkey on Monday, followed by another team on Tuesday morning. It said it would send a total of 130 people along with five search dogs and 13 tonnes of aid.

“Taiwan is donating to the disaster response effort and stands ready to contribute to recovery,” President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted on Monday.

The Philippines was preparing to send rescuers to Turkey as well. The Office of Civil Defense was coordinating with concerned agencies to discuss personnel and equipment, according to a statement.

Likewise, South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol said on Tuesday that his government would send rescuers and first aid supplies on a military transport aircraft. The president also asked the foreign ministry to cooperate with Turkish authorities through diplomatic missions in the country.

India’s government on Monday said two teams “comprising 100 personnel with specially trained dog squads and necessary equipment are ready to be flown to the earthquake-hit area for search and rescue operations”, in coordination with the Turkish side. “Medical teams are also being readied with trained doctors and paramedics with essential medicines.”

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi followed up with a message for Syria on Twitter, writing: “Deeply pained to learn that the devastating earthquake has also affected Syria. My sincere condolences to the families of the victims. We share the grief of Syrian people and remain committed to providing assistance and support in this difficult time.”

Chinese president Xi Jinping on Monday sent condolences to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Xu Wei, a spokesperson for the China International Development Cooperation Agency, said China is in communication with the authorities of both affected countries. Xu said that the Chinese government stood ready to provide emergency humanitarian aid.

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