Islamabad, 7 February 2023 (TDI): Pakistan has dispatched its first batch of rescue teams and relief goods to Türkiye for victims of Monday’s massive earthquakes.

According to a statement from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Office, a C-130 aircraft carrying a search and rescue crew from the Pakistan Army set off from Chaklala Airbase in Rawalpindi late Monday.

Rescue team and relief items

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), had organized an action plan, and a military plane took off straight to the Turkiye earthquake area.

“On February 7, an early PIA flight space for 50 people and a 15-ton load is available to convey Rescue 1122 crew to Turkiye.” The statement from Prime Minister’s office read.

The team was formed by the recommendations of the United Nations (UN) International Search and Rescue Advisory Group.

There are three search and rescue squads, a team commander, a leader, and a deputy leader for planning and coordination, as well as medical, logistic, and communication teams.

Also read: 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake rocks Turkiye & Syria, death toll rises

On Tuesday, a second military aircraft will depart for Istanbul with a seven-ton cargo load that includes winterized tents, blankets, and other items.

Shehbaz Sharif also held a telephone call with the President of Turkiye, Tayyip Erdogan, on Monday afternoon. He “conveyed heartfelt condolences over the loss of precious lives and property.”

Deadly earthquake in Turkiye

One of the strongest earthquakes to hit the region shook residents from their beds at around 4 am on Monday. The earthquake was so powerful it sent tremors as far away as Lebanon and Israel.

The epicenter of the 7.8-magnitude quake was 23 kilometers east of Nurdagi, in Turkey’s Gaziantep province, at a depth of 24.1 kilometers. A series of aftershocks reverberated throughout the day.

An earthquake of 7.8-magnitude shakes Turkiye
An earthquake of 7.8-magnitude shakes Turkiye

According to government figures, the toll from the two quakes has risen to more than 4,300. At least 2,921 have been confirmed dead in Turkiye, the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), the death toll could rise to over 20,000. As day breaks rescue teams are stepping up their search for survivors. Many people in the disaster zone have been too scared to go back into buildings.

Rescuers are battling heavy rain and snow as they race against the clock to find survivors of the devastating earthquake. Notably, countries worldwide are sending support to help the rescue efforts, including specialist teams, sniffer dogs, and equipment.

But the earthquake has caused significant damage to three airports across Turkey, also creating challenges for aid deliveries.