Armenian team continues to search for survivors in quake-stricken Türkiye

Team from Yerevan combing through rubble in effort to save lives

Bilal Kahyaoglu  | 13.02.2023 - Update : 14.02.2023
Armenian team continues to search for survivors in quake-stricken Türkiye

ADIYAMAN, Türkiye 

A 28-member Armenian search and rescue team is continuing its efforts to save lives in Türkiye’s Adiyaman province as survivors are still being pulled from the rubble following last week’s earthquakes in the country’s south.

Gari Armaganyan, a member of the team, told Anadolu that they came to Türkiye a day after the devastating quakes struck.

Saying that the special rescue team left for the region after Türkiye requested international assistance, Armaganyan said they arrived in the country on Feb. 7 at the instruction of the Armenian government.

The team then proceeded to Adiyaman province, which was severely affected by the earthquakes, he said, adding they have continued to search for victims since then.

“The Turkish nation can be sure that in these dark days, the international community, including Armenia, is ready to provide all kinds of support,” said Armaganyan, extending his condolences to the Turkish nation.

“I have never seen such an earthquake, nor have our team members. Such large-scale destruction has never been witnessed before,” he added.

The Armenian team is also using sniffer dogs to locate possible survivors.

Garo Paylan, a member of the Turkish parliament, said on Twitter: “Two more miracles happened on the seventh day!”

“In Adiyaman, as a result of the cooperation of Turkish, Armenian and US teams, two more of our girls were rescued alive. Solidarity is saving lives!” Paylan added, sharing a photo and a video while the rescue teams cheered for the survivors.

On Saturday, Paylan said on Twitter: "Shoulder-to-shoulder with the AFAD (Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency) crew, the Armenian relief team rescued an eight-year-old girl alive in Adiyaman.”

Türkiye-Armenia border reopened

The Türkiye-Armenia border reopened for the first time in 30 years to facilitate the passage of humanitarian aid to people affected by last Monday’s massive twin earthquakes.

Five trucks carrying aid from Armenia crossed the border via the Alican border crossing in eastern Türkiye’s Igdir province.

Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan shared a video showing aid trucks crossing a bridge to arrive in Türkiye.

“Humanitarian aid from #Armenia crossed the Margara bridge on #Armenia-#Turkey border heading to earthquake-stricken region,” Kostanyan said on Twitter.

Serdar Kilic, Türkiye’s special envoy to discuss steps for the normalization of ties with Armenia, thanked Armenia on Twitter for the aid.

“Thank you dear @VahanKostanyan, thank you dear @RubenRubinyan for your kind efforts to make this happen,” Kilic said, referring to the vice president of the Armenian National Assembly.

“I will always remember the generous aid sent by the people of Armenia to help alleviate the sufferings of our people in the earthquake-stricken region in Türkiye.”

The Alican border crossing was also used in 1988, when a big earthquake hit Armenia, to send aid collected by the Turkish Red Crescent to the affected areas.

Last year, Turkish and Armenian officials agreed to open the land border for third-country citizens visiting both countries as soon as possible, the Turkish Foreign Ministry had said.

Türkiye and Armenia also resumed commercial flights as of February 2022 after a two-year hiatus.

The two countries have been divided on a range of issues, including Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and the 1915 events during the Ottoman Empire era, and the border between the two neighboring countries has been closed since 1993.

*Handan Kazanci in Istanbul contributed to this story.

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