This week's devastating series of earthquakes hitting Turkey and Syria caused acute damage and destruction within a 200-mile radius and aftershocks were felt as far as Israel.
We are heartbroken that thousands have been confirmed killed, and many more injured, with increasing tolls expected in the coming weeks. With thousands of homes and businesses destroyed, rescuers were racing to pull survivors from beneath the rubble.
150,000 people have been made homeless by the earthquakes and need to cope with the bitter cold in the region.
As always, Jewish Federations across North America and Israel, together with our partners, are ready to assist when disaster strikes, and are already working to assess the needs and offer support in whatever ways we can. Delegations from the Israel Defense Forces and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a Federation partner, are immediately responding to this disaster. IDF medical and logistics corps troops are establishing a field hospital and Jewish Federations are working with the JDC to provide immediate relief such as food, portable heating and winter items, medical support, and temporary shelter to those affected.
Jewish Federations and the JDC have responded to countless earthquakes in Turkey over the years and we're ready to act quickly and effectively to provide critical aid and support to those in need. Thank you to our Federation supporters for enabling the Jewish community to respond quickly when disaster strikes.
- JDC worked with the Turkish Jewish community to evacuate ten communal members from the immediate disaster area. All ten are now safe, and six of the group have been given accommodation in the community’s assisted living facility. The JDC team arrived on the ground within 36 hours of the quake and have now visited four of the hardest hit areas to evaluate the needs on the ground. In the coming days, JDC plans to focus on helping some of the estimated one million people left without homes cope with living outdoors in very difficult conditions. JDC will be supplying thousands of tents, heaters, thermal clothing, ready to eat meals and first aid kits.
- The IDF has already sent a delegation of 150 search and rescue experts of the Home Front Command and will send a second delegation of 230 experts to establish a field hospital in the area in the coming hours (See here for details about the field hospital.) Since arriving in Turkey late Monday night, the IDF mission known as “Operation Olive Branch” (see photos here) has aided the search and rescue activities.
- Last night, following a four and a half hour operation, the IDF team managed to rescue a young woman trapped under rubble and later also rescued a young boy. See moving footage of the rescues here and video of IDF Search and Rescue Team Commander, Maj (res.) Matan Schneider, describing the operation here. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that Israel also plans to send aid to Syria, including tents, medication, and blankets, but the Syrian government has denied requesting aid from Israel. Israel and Syria do not have diplomatic ties; however, during the ongoing civil war there, the IDF carried out a significant humanitarian operation to treat wounded Syrian civilians.
- A group of 25 volunteers from United Hatzalah left Israel for Turkey yesterday, including doctors, paramedics, and trauma experts; they also sent ten tons of equipment and humanitarian aid. Joining them was a small group from IsraAID organization, including trauma experts, who traveled to Turkey with water purification systems. Rescuers without Borders, another Israeli NGO, has also deployed a small team of medical professionals to the field.