India on Tuesday dispatched four Indian Air Force (IAF) C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft with relief material, a 30-bed field hospital, and rescue and medical personnel to Turkey as part of its Humanitarian And Disaster Relief (HADR) efforts to assist earthquake-hit Turkey and Syria. The first C-17 reached during the day on Tuesday.
To Syria, India is despatching medical supplies in an IAF C-130 transport aircraft to Damascus, though its departure was delayed through the day. “An IAF flight carrying 6 tons of emergency relief assistance has taken off for Syria. Consignment consists of life saving medicines and emergency medical items. Indian stands in solidarity with those most affected by this tragedy,” External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar tweeted late on Tuesday.
The Indian Army has dispatched a 30-bed field hospital along with a 99-member specialist medical team in two C-17s which departed late in the evening.
The death toll has crossed 5,000 in Turkey and Syria, which were devastated by massive earthquakes on Monday.
“Fourth IAF C-17 aircraft leaves for Türkiye with the remaining component of the field hospital. This includes 54 members of the Indian Army medical team as well as medical and other equipments to establish the facility,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Twitter.
A 45-member Army medical team with components of the field hospital had left a couple of hours prior in another aircraft.
The first two C-17s left with self-contained National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, including dog squads, search and rescue (SAR) equipment, extrication tools and vehicles, the MEA said. “India continues to support the people of Türkiye in their hour of need,” Mr. Bagchi had said in an earlier tweet.
Dr. Jaishankar said in the morning on Twitter: “The first Indian C-17 with more than 50 NDRF SAR personnel, specially trained dog squads, drilling machines, relief material, medicines and other necessary utilities and equipment reaches Adana, Türkiye.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that, in all, two teams consisting of 101 NDRF personnel have been sent, with a contingent led by Commandant Gurminder Singh, and doctors and paramedics for providing necessary assistance. “The teams are self-contained in all respects and will assist the local authorities of the Türkiye in relief and rescue operations,” an MHA statement said.
“It is important to share that in our first helping hand flight, five of the 51 SAR team members are women! Very proud to say this,” Sanjay Verma, Secretary (West), MEA, said.
The first C-17 got airborne for Türkiye at 3.09 a.m. and the second C-17 took off around 12.30 p.m.
The IAF aircraft flew around Pakistani airspace and it has been learnt that no request for overflights has been made.
The field hospital had been mobilised hours after the announcement of assistance by India, the Army said, and Agra-based 60 Para Field Hospital had dispatched a 99-member medical team. The team comprises of critical care specialist teams, including an orthopaedic surgical team, a general surgical specialist team, and medical specialist teams, apart from other medical teams. The teams are equipped with X-ray machines, ventilators, an oxygen generation plant, cardiac monitors and associated equipment to establish a 30-bedded medical facility, the Army added
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that India will provide “all possible assistance”, and in a meeting led by P.K. Mishra, Principal Secretary to the PM, and attended by the Cabinet Secretary and representatives of the relevant Ministries, it was decided to send “search and rescue teams of NDRF and medical professionals immediately”.