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Turkey agencies lend hand after powerful earthquake

– Groups join forces to help residents

By Ali Murat Alhas

ANKARA (AA) – Turkish agencies, commercial outlets and rescue teams were quick to extend a helping hand after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit eastern Elazig province late Friday.

The Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD), Turkish Red Crescent, National Medical Rescue Team (UMKE), Search and Rescue Association (AKUT) and emergency services dispatched rescue teams, beds, blankets and mobile kitchens to the region immediately after the quake.

The AFAD said hundreds of tents, beds and thousands of blankets were transported and 28 rescue teams were activated to work on a 24-hour, seven-day basis. Also, trucks loaded with humanitarian aid were sent to the region.

Hundreds of rescue personnel from different provinces were transferred to areas jolted by the natural disaster.

The Turkish Red Crescent sent catering, communication vehicles and three large trucks serving as mobile kitchens were dispatched. Ambulances and planes were ready to help, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the army was ready to step in and help citizens, if necessary.

Communication companies, including Turkcell, Vodafone and Turk Telekom, announced residents in quake-hit areas were provided with free internet and communication services.

Turkish Airlines said it would conduct additional flights to Elazig province in a bid to ease transportation to the region.

In addition, mosques and schools opened their doors to residents so they could spend the night without worrying about the safety at home. Gyms and dormitories affiliated with the Youth and Sports Ministry also announced it would welcome residents.

According to the latest reports, the powerful quake claimed at least 15 lives in Elazig and neighboring Malatya provinces and hundreds of civilians were transferred to hospitals.

This is not the first quake to hit Turkey in 2020. A 5.4-magnitude quake jolted western province of Manisa on Wednesday. And Ankara was rattled by a 4.5-magnitude quake Thursday.

In 2010, 51 people died in a 6.0-magnitude quake that hit Elazig province.

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