Embassy kicks off relief mission in Türkiye; Philippine rescue ops team arrives

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
Embassy kicks off relief mission in Türkiye; Philippine rescue ops team arrives
Residents and rescue personnel search for victims and survivors through the rubble of collapsed buildings in Kahramanmaras, on February 8, 2023, two days after a 7,8-magnitude earthquake struck southeast Turkey. Searchers were still pulling survivors on February 8 from the rubble of the earthquake that killed over 11,200 people in Turkey and Syria, even as the window for rescues narrowed. For two days and nights since the 7.8 magnitude quake, thousands of searchers have worked in freezing temperatures to find those still alive under flattened buildings on either side of the border.
AFP / Ozan Kose

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Embassy in Ankara has already kicked off its relief operations in the earthquake-hit southeastern parts of Türkiye with the assistance of local authorities.

There are 248 Filipino nationals based in quake-hit provinces. Two Filipinos who were injured have since recovered, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.

"We are thankful that a number of our kababayan are safe and we will not give up hope for those that cannot yet be conducted," the foreign service post said in a statement on Thursday. "The Embassy will act swiftly and decisively for all confirmed reports."

Its team have distributed relief goods that include food, blankets, water, and cash. The DFA said on Wednesday that the country will tap into its Assistance to Nationals Fund in order to finance the assistance program.

Toll reaches 15,000

Freezing temperatures deepened the misery Thursday for survivors of a massive earthquake in Türkiye and Syria that killed at least 15,000 people, as rescuers raced to save countless people still trapped under rubble.

The death toll from Monday's 7.8-magnitude quake is expected to rise sharply as rescue efforts near the 72-hour mark that disaster experts consider the most likely period to save lives.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday conceded "shortcomings" after criticism of his government's response to the massive earthquake, which is one of the deadliest this century.

Survivors have been left to scramble for food and shelter — and in some cases watch helplessly as their relatives called for rescue, and eventually went silent under the debris.

The Philippines sent a humanitarian response team on Wednesday to Türkiye to aid in search and rescue operations/

Help for Filipinos 

Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Ankara said it is also working with Filipino community leaders and groups to provide assistance. Embassy personnel met with Filipinos based in Adana and ?skenderun.

Filipino groups there are also conducting their own donation drive.

"We heard that there’s around three to four missing FIlipino nationals who were all living in one building and one has already been recovered," Pinoy in Ankara Community president Cherry Santos said in Filipino during in an interview over ABS-CBN News’ “Sakto” on Thursday.

Santos added that a Filipino who was previously reported dead by her employer after being found in the rubble is actually alive. 

At a House hearing on Thursday, Migrant Workers Undersecretary for Licensing and Adjudication Services Bernard Olalia said the  will work with private recruitment agencies to form guidelines on how to protect overseas Filipino workers there. 

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration will also form a team to assist the DFA in creating shelters for Filipinos affected by the earthquake. – with reports from Cristina Chi and Agence France-Presse / Kadir Demirwith Omar Haj Kadour

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