German groups suspend earthquake rescue in Turkey because of security issues

© Reuters. A man sits among the rubble after a deadly earthquake in Kahramanmaras, Turkey February 11, 2023. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

By Erol Dogrudogan

KIRIKHAN, Turkey/BERLIN (Reuters) – Two German aid organizations have suspended rescue operations in Turkey following Saturday’s earthquake, citing security issues and reports of Clashes between groups of people and gunfire.

The German International Search and Rescue Agency (ISAR) and the German Federal Technical Relief Service (THW) said they would resume work as soon as the Turkish civil protection agency AFAD classified the situation. is safe.

ISAR CEO Steven Bayer (OTC:) said the security situation is deteriorating a bit in the days since the disaster, and this is normal in such circumstances.

“That’s partly because food is running out, water supplies are running out, and then people go out looking for food and water,” he said at a camp for rescuers in New York. Kirikhan town.

“The second thing is that the hope that people have is fading away, and that hope can then turn into anger as well.”

Bayer had previously told Reuters the group would remain in a joint camp with THW for the time being, however, he added that the organizations would be immediately ready to help should there be any sign of these problems. survivor.

“There are increasing reports of clashes between different groups and shootings are believed to have broken out,” ISAR told Reuters in an email.

Turkish authorities have not reported clashes in the quake-hit area, but President Tayyip Erdogan commented on the general security situation on Saturday, noting that a state of emergency has been declared and There have been several robberies.

“That means from now on, those who engage in looting or kidnapping should know that the state is supporting them,” he said during a visit to the area.

The Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit (AFDRU) – also halted operations on Saturday and then resumed, with Defense Ministry spokesman Michael Bauer tweeting that the Turkish military had taken over. protect the AFDRU team.

About 82 rescuers from the Austrian armed forces have been in Antakya, Turkey, since February 7, and their specialists have freed nine people from the rubble.

Switzerland said it was closely monitoring the security situation in Hatay and that security measures had been increased accordingly.

Switzerland has sent 87 experts and eight dogs to help with the rescue operation, and has so far found 11 people, including two infants, since arriving on Tuesday. An additional team of 12 was sent on Friday.


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