Earthquake: Malaysian rescue team unable to enter ground zero due to logistics problems

GAZIANTEP (Turkiye) – The second Malaysian rescue team (MAS-10) deployed to assist in the search and rescue (SAR) for Turkiye earthquake victims who already arrived in Gaziantep on Thursday evening, is still unable to enter ground zero due to logistics problems.

The constraint was due to equipment for the SAR operation and personal needs of the team members, brought from Kuala Lumpur, have yet to fully arrive at Gazientep Airport, even though the mission team had arrived at 5.50pm (Gazientap local time) on Thursday.

MAS-10 team leader, Abdul Manaf Che Isa, said that the problem may have occurred following the arrival of many SAR agencies from foreign countries in Turkiye on the same day.

“But Alhamdulillah as of 9.40 tonight (Gazientep local time) 70 per cent of our equipment has arrived, including two tracking dogs, Denti and Frankie, who are in good condition,” he told Bernama and RTM.

Abdul Manaf said the team will move to Nurdag, about 45 kilometers west of Gaziantep, which is the location designated by the local disaster relief agency, once all the necessary items are obtained.

MAS-10, a team under the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA), comprises  20 members of the Special Malaysia Search and Rescue Team (SMART), 30 members of the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) and 20 officers of the Civil Defence Force (APM). The team departed from Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday night and arrived in Istanbul at 6am Thursday.

Also joining the team were two media personnel from the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) and one cameraman from Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM).

Several foreign SAR agencies, from China, Tajikistan and Russia, have also arrived at Gazientep Airport.

A strong earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, which hit southern Turkiye and northwestern Syria on Monday, has claimed thousands of lives.

The effects of the earthquake were also reported to be felt in Cyprus and Lebanon.

Turkiye, on Tuesday, declared a three-month state of emergency in 10 provinces – Adana, Adıyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye and Sanliurf – to ensure the smooth running of search and rescue missions. – Bernama