The search and rescue teams dispatched by Romania to Turkey in the aftermath of two major earthquakes in Turkey two days ago have increased to almost 120 people and are made up of emergency management specialists, healthcare workers and attendants of seven utility dogs that take part in missions in disaster areas, according to the head of Romania's Emergency Management Department (DSU) Raed Arafat.
Arafat said on Wednesday that the first team of the General Emergency Management Inspectorate (IGSU) that is already operating in Turkey had managed to save three people, having been working since Wednesday morning to remove a 16-year-old young man from under the rubble.
"Immediately after the earthquake occurred, in less than 12 hours, I can say, after we got accepted by the Turkish authorities, we had the first team flown by means of the Ministry of Defence, of the Air Force, a team consisting of 59 rescuers, which also included two doctors, two nurses. They also included canine teams, from the NGOs we collaborate with. They started up as soon as they could, after creating the base of operations, and so far they have rescued three people. The last one was rescued during the night and they have been working for hours to get a 16-year-old out who is still alive but trapped under the rubble and we are expecting them at any time to let us know, and we hope they manage to get him out. (...) It's a race against time," said Arafat.
He also briefed on a second rescue team dispatched to Turkey on Wednesday.
"The team got ready during the night; it is the second search and rescue team, which is in the process of certification but prepared as it has already participated in international exercises in this field as part of the Bucharest-Ilfov Emergency Management Inspectorate (ISU). (...) We are talking about a team of 57 people, which includes two DSU officers, rescuers from the Bucharest fire brigade, two doctors, two nurses from SMURD Bucharest and three dogs and their handlers from the NGO we collaborate with, the Club of Utility Dogs and Salvamont. So, that means that we will now have the first four dogs, plus the three sent today. Plus, we will have two teams of almost 120 people, who will work again against the clock to save lives there. The people have already left on the first two aircraft provided by the air force," Arafat said.
He explained that two NATO planes are also taking off from Bucharest to fly to Adana, Turkey, machines and equipment needed by the rescue teams.
"There, our staff will take over the equipment, which includes the machines, and they will start up a base of operations there. (...) We flew the first team without motor vehicles. It was much easier with the equipment on the pallet; the team was ready and Turkey provided cars for transportation. But for the second team, considering that there is a lot of pressure on the Turkish colleagues - as there are many teams arriving - we preferred to send cars to the area as well so that our teams can move around. This morning, another plane of the Romanian Air Force, a Hercules-130, left with two cars and other equipment to support the first team that left, to give them mobility too," said Arafat.
He added that as far as Romania is concerned, the RO-USAR urban search and rescue teams will remain in Turkey as long as necessary, but a staff rotation and the further provision of logistic support will be taken into account, told Agerpres.
According to available information, there are almost 5,000 rescuers and 200 dogs in Turkey as part of the teams provided by the European Civil Protection Mechanism, plus teams sent by other countries outside the European Union, such as Jordan and Israel.
"In terms of medical support, Turkey has accepted field hospitals 1, level 2 and I understand probably also one level 3, which will be located there to support in the medium run all the activity that is there. From our point of view, our teams will remain there as long as necessary in case we have to rotate staff or further provide logistical support," added Arafat.