One year on, Turks praise Chinese earthquake rescuers' heroic efforts

Updated: Feb 7, 2024 Xinhua Print
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ISTANBUL -- A year ago, Türkiye suffered the worst disaster in its modern history when twin earthquakes rocked its southern region, killing more than 53,000 people and displacing millions.

As the country commemorates the tragedy, many Turks still remember the heroic work of the Chinese search and rescue teams that came to their aid.

The Chinese teams, comprising 82 members of the China Search and Rescue Team, volunteers from the Blue Sky Rescue Team, and other civil relief squads, worked tirelessly to save lives under the rubble.

Their valiant efforts earned them the respect and gratitude of the Turkish people and government, who awarded them a state medal for their outstanding sacrifice.

Esma Durak, a 50-year-old woman who lives in the quake-hit Hatay province, recounted some moments of profound humanity when the Chinese rescuers celebrated each life salvaged with cheers and embraces.

"The citizens supported them with applause," she said, praising the Chinese rescuers' professionalism and commitment to saving lives.

She also remembered a video that went viral online last year, showing the Chinese rescuers receiving incessant applause when they visited Istanbul's famous Grand Bazaar after completing their mission.

"Turkish shopkeepers gave them gifts, and restaurant owners did not charge them for meals as a sign of thankfulness," she said. "It was a very moving moment for me."

Tuncay Taymaz, a professor of seismology and geophysics at Istanbul Technical University, praised the disciplined and scientific approach of the Chinese teams.

He spent nearly three months in the earthquake zone conducting research and analysis and had the chance to observe their operations.

"Chinese teams have done a commendable job in working under the rubble, pulling the bodies out while paying utmost care to the surrounding environment," he said.

"We have a lot to learn from China, especially about earthquake seismology, mitigation of earthquake damages, creating earthquake-resistant cities, conducting search and rescue missions, and equipment use in the field."

He added that the Chinese teams had shown the value of human life and solidarity in times of crisis.

"We have all watched together the heroic work they have done," he said.

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