Hungary has offered its assistance in the rescue efforts following two powerful earthquakes that have struck southern Turkey. Turkey has thanked and accepted the offer, so a fifty-strong search and rescue team, including six doctors, set up under the coordination of the National Directorate General for Disaster Management, will leave for Turkey later this evening, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó announced on Monday.
The minister expressed concern about reports from Turkey that so far, over a thousand people have died and thousands more have been injured in the initial earthquake, with a 7.8 magnitude, which hit ten provinces in southern Turkey and affected northern Syria. Since then, at around 1.30 p.m. local time, a second earthquake hit the region with a 7.6 magnitude. “Turkey, the Turkish nation, is a friend of Hungary and the Hungarian nation. It is only natural that we stand by our Turkish friends in this trouble and will help in any way we can,” Minister Szijjártó stated in a video posted on his Facebook page.
Szijjártó said that the Interior Minister has contacted his Turkish counterpart and Hungary has offered a unit with considerable experience in search and rescue.
We hope that these efforts will be successful and that we will be able to prevent a large increase in the number of victims, as there is always a risk after a major earthquake that those who are trapped under the rubble will not be rescued in time,”
the Hungarian Foreign Minister said. He added that he had recently spoken to his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu, expressed his condolences and indicated that Hungary remained ready to provide all assistance in the search for survivors, the care of the injured and the restoration of damaged infrastructure.
At the same time, Azbej Tristan, Secretary of State for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and the Hungary Helps Program, has already called together an urgent meeting to assess the disaster situation caused by the earthquakes in southern Turkey and northern Syria and the possibility of humanitarian assistance.
Péter Szijjártó also reported on Monday afternoon that the Hungarian Embassy in Ankara had also felt the effects of the earthquake and the head of the diplomatic mission had ordered the temporary evacuation of the building. A structural engineer will arrive on the scene soon to inspect the condition of the building.
“In addition, we have indicated to Hungarian citizens in Turkey, 213 of whom have applied for consular protection, which areas of the country they should not visit. One Hungarian person is known to be in the disaster area and we are in constant contact with him,” he said. He also asked that if any Hungarian citizen is in the disaster-affected area, they should report it either to the consular service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or to the Hungarian embassy in Ankara.
Szijjártó pointed out that
the earthquake had also been devastating in areas of Syria, and that several Christian communities with which the Hungarian government has relations had suffered serious damage.
“Of course, we will keep their support on the agenda in the coming days and we will implement it”, he stated.
The Foreign Minister also said that the women’s handball team of Győri ETO is currently in Turkey, and the embassy is in constant contact with them, and they will be travelling home from Istanbul in the evening. The Ferencváros junior football team is still in training camp in Turkey and is scheduled to return home in the second half of the week.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has sent a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressing his condolences for the victims of the early morning earthquake and the damage suffered, and offered Hungary’s assistance.
“It was with deep shock and regret that I learned of the devastating earthquake that hit southern Turkey, causing considerable material damage and human loss. I would also like to take this opportunity to reaffirm to you that Hungary stands by Turkey in this tragic moment,” Orbán wrote.
“On this sad occasion, I express my sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wish the injured a speedy recovery, while at the same time expressing my hope that the Hungarian donation can contribute to the success of the rescue efforts,” the Hungarian Prime Minister concluded his letter to the Turkish President. Orbán also offered his condolences on Twitter.
I would like to offer my condolences to @RTErdogan and the people of #Türkiye following today’s tragic earthquake. We are praying for the families of the victims. I have instructed the Hungarian authorities to provide immediate assistance to Türkiye.
According to recent information, at the time of writing, the number of victims has already exceeded 2,300 in Turkey and Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the incident as the “biggest disaster” since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake. Turkish Energy and National Resources Minister Fatih Donmez said that damage has been inflicted on electricity transmission lines as well as natural gas transmission and distribution lines. After the initial earthquake, Turkey declared a level 4 alert state, which includes an international call for help.