Search & rescue team leaves for Turkey on Wednesday

Search & rescue team leaves for Turkey on Wednesday

53 members of national civil protection, GNR and medical emergency on board 

A team of 53 members of the national civil protection, GNR and medical emergency will be leaving Portugal bound for Turkey tomorrow to help in search and rescue efforts after Monday’s devastating earthquake, for which the death toll has now reached over 5,000.

Said minister for interior administration José Luís Carneiro this morning: “In the coming hours, a team of 53 members of the national civil protection emergency authority, of members of the UEPS (emergency unit of protection and assistance) of the National Republican Guard (GNR) and also of medical emergency personnel, will leave our country to join European efforts of humanitarian nature of civil protection and, very particularly in the case of Portuguese support, in the context of search and rescue”.

Among the force will be six sniffer dogs.

President of ANAC (national authority for emergency and civil protection) Duarte da Costa was alongside the minister at an event in Coimbra and stressed this is a joint force with members of the structure of the National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection (ANEPC), members of the GNR UEPS, units of the fire brigade regiment and a medical intervention team from the INEM (the country’s accident and emergency paramedics) for the security of the force itself.

“We are planning to leave tomorrow during the day”, he told reporters. “We have already found, in partnership with the European Mechanism, the methods that are necessary to get the force into Turkey, together with other European efforts and other European forces that are currently being prepared.”

The mission is expected to last 10 to 15 days, but may be extended, depending on what the team finds on the ground, and according to Portuguese foreign policy, Duarte da Costa added, saying it was not yet known where exactly the Portuguese team will be operating. These details are still being agreed with Turkish authorities.

In addition to the 53 operatives heading to Turkey, Portugal is also sending search and rescue equipment, but not heavy equipment.

The head of ANEPC also referred to the now 150 operatives preparing to leave for Chile to help fight the fires in the country, stressing it will be “an unprecedented situation” for Portugal to have two forces deployed outside national territory.

The provisional toll from Monday’s earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has risen to more than 5,000 dead as rescue operations continue in the rubble of destroyed buildings in both countries.

The quakes, the largest of which measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, brought down thousands of buildings in southern Turkey and possibly even more in northern Syria where infrastructures have been weakened by years of armed conflict.

As seismologists have explained, the region of Turkey/ Syria that has been devastated sits on major fault lines of two tectonic plates: the Arabian and the Anatolian. In this case it was the Arabian plate moving northwards and grinding against the Anatolian plate. Friction from the plates has been responsible for very damaging earthquakes in the past – but an earthquake of Monday’s magnitude has not been felt for roughly 200 years.

Source material: Lusa/ BBC