Czech Rescuers Return from Turkey

The rescuers extricated 78 dead bodies and two living people from the ruins of the buildings that collapsed in the earthquake. Photo: @hasici_cr via Twitter

Prague/Mosnov, North Moravia, Feb 18 (CTK) – A plane with Czech rescuers who helped in the Turkish town Adiyaman hit by a devastating earthquake landed at the Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague on Friday afternoon.

The rescuers extricated 78 dead bodies and two living people from the ruins of the buildings that collapsed in the earthquake.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala (Civic Democratic Party, ODS) also thanked the rescuers on the Twitter in late afternoon.

At the airport, they were welcomed by Interior Minister Vit Rakusan (Mayors and Independents, STAN) and the ambassador of Turkey.

The rescuers had provided a good name to the Czech Republic, Rakusan said, appreciating their work and the speed with which they had set out for Turkey.

The 7.8 Magnitude earthquake that hit the southern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6 has claimed almost 44,000 lives, 38,000 in Turkey alone.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) assesses the quake as the worst natural disaster over the past century.

The USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) team left for Turkey on Monday evening on February 6 and worked without a pause until Tuesday.

Last week, the Czech rescuers saved two living people from the ruins and the dog from a Czech dog-handling group helped their counterparts from a different team find another living woman.

“We owe them tremendous thanks. They have shown what Czech rescuers can do,” Rakusan said.

The training thanks to which the logistics has been mastered perfectly has proved to be beneficial, he added. He said the participants in the mission were heroes.

At first, the Czech Republic sent 68 rescuers. Along with firefighters and doctors, there were construction engineers and dog-handlers in the team. At the weekend, they were joined by another two firefighters, who arrived with humanitarian aid and firefighting equipment on board a military CASA cargo plane there.

The humanitarian aid mainly consisted of clothing.

The general director of the Firefighting Authority, Vladimir Vlcek, said the rescuers had performed excellent work in Adiyaman, also appreciated by the locals.

“When looking at the total performance of all 18 teams in Adiyaman, the Czech team executed 26 percent of it. From the viewpoint of Turkey, almost 10 percent of the performance of all foreign teams,” Vlcek said.

Ambassador of Turkey Egemen Bagis thanked the Czech Republic and Czech citizens for real friendship and solidarity.

The rescue team’s dog handler Matej Bartosik said the locals had responded beyond expectations.

“The cooperation was perfect. I think the locals gave a very positive assessment of us for having come to help them from the distance of over 2,000 kilometres, and that we brought everything for us to be self-sufficient,” Bartosik said, adding that the local army had provided the background and provisioned the team with foodstuffs.

Tens of family members made an emotional welcome to the Czech rescuers in Mosnov.

There were banners and tears of emotion. The rescuers said the mission had been very difficult and that the Czech team had executed a very good work.

It has turned out that the USAR was very well prepared, though there were still some things to improve, Petr Klega, the head of the dog handlers, said.

“We did not encounter anything that may have surprised us considerably. We were prepared. Nevertheless, this was a real intervention. For me personally, its extent was unique and the first,” Klega said.

The aircraft from the company Smartwings and two aircraft of the Czech military transported blankets from the Administration of State Material Reserves, health material bought from the programme Medevac and 500 trauma set from the Czech Red Cross to Turkey on Friday.

The Interior Ministry said the consignment was comprised of bandages, gloves and surgical instruments.


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