Disaster Update: Earthquake in Turkey

Rescue workers try to save people trapped under debris after an earthquake in Tabanli village near the eastern Turkish city of Van on Oct. 23, 2011. (Photo: Reuters/Abdurrahman Antakyali/Anadolu Agency)

The Turkish Red Crescent Society, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), has determined that external assistance is not required at this time. As such, the American Red Cross is not accepting donations designated to this response operation.

Turkey – A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the eastern province of Van, Turkey on Sunday at 1:41 pm local time. The quake’s epicenter was below the village of Tabanli. Turkey is located on an active seismic zone and this is the most powerful earthquake to hit the country in over a decade. Dozens of buildings collapsed leaving many people injured, trapped, or homeless. Temperatures are close to freezing at night and aftershocks continue to strike the region.

Turkish Red Crescent is one of the largest disaster response organizations in Europe and has prepared extensively for large earthquakes.The Turkish Red Crescent headquarters in Ankara has sent more than 100 disaster specialists and thousands of relief supplies to the region. The Turkish government is leading the response effort and has mobilized vehicles, personnel, supplies and ambulances.Turkish Red Crescent volunteers and staff are working diligently to reach people trapped in the rubble. They have distributed more than 12,000 tents and 25,000 blankets, as well as food and clean water. The Turkish Red Crescent has set up feeding centers for those who have lost their homes or are unwilling to re-enter them, fearing aftershocks. A tent city is being set up in the stadium in the city of Ercis and blood products are being set to hospitals in the region.

The American Red Cross is in communication with partners in the region and is monitoring the situation closely. After the devastating 1999 earthquake in Turkey that left over half a million people homeless, the American Red Cross developed a strong partnership with the Turkish Red Crescent to help increase their response capacity. We have provided support following major earthquakes as well as supporting initiatives to strengthen disaster preparedness.

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