PH’s 87-man rescue team all set for deployment to quake-hit Turkey
MANILA, Philippines — The 87-man interagency rescue team that the Philippine government will deploy to earthquake-battered Turkey conducted its final preparations Tuesday.
The interagency contingent team conducted a readiness inspection in Camp Aguinaldo before their targeted departure on Wednesday.
Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the 87-man team comprises military and medical personnel along with members of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
Galvez said some of the personnel here have deployment experience in Nepal, Haiti and Japan when high intensity earthquake also hit those countries in the past.
The team, who has been initially instructed to stay in Turkey for two weeks, is also equipped with life detectors, a listening device used to detect and locate live victims trapped in a building or rubble; cameras; and other tools, according to Galvez.
The country will also bring 16 tons of medical supplies and equipment to the Middle Eastern country, according to Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire.
“We are ready to send off tomorrow,” Galvez said in a chance interview with reporters.
“We know that the Turkish government is very kind to us,” the official said, noting the aid given by Turkey for the country’s COVID-19 response and its assistance to the Bangsamoro peace process.
The government heeded the call of Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Manila for assistance in the form of emergency medical and urban search and rescue teams, according to the Office of Civil Defense.
The total number of fatalities due to the magnitude 7.8 tremor in Turkey and Syria rose past 5,000 on Tuesday, according to a Reuters report.
In Turkey, the death toll climbed to 3,419 people while over 1,600 were recorded in Syria, the report added.
Freezing winter weather in those countries may hinder the search and rescue efforts through the night.
But Maj. Erwen Diploma of the Philippine Air Force, one of the members of the interagency rescue team, said they will come prepared even with the cold weather.
“We are expecting a sub-zero climate,” Diploma said in an interview. “We are not used to it but with the proper planning and proper preparation we hope to perform our mandated duty.”
“I feel privileged, especially representing our country, to show that we are willing to help,” he added.
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