One Indian national has been missing in the earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on Monday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has informed. Briefing the media about the ongoing Indian rescue effort, ‘Operation Dost’, MEA Secretary (West) Sanjay Verma said 10 other Indian citizens are “stuck” in the affected region but he confirmed that they remain unharmed. Indian officials have set up a control room in Adana in southern Turkey and two Turkish-speaking Indian diplomats have joined the search and rescue teams that were flown in from here.
The official informed that a special desk was set up at the Indian embassy in Ankara to help the nationals in the quake-affected area. “We have received calls from 75 (Indian) persons asking for assistance. There are 10 individuals who are stuck in some remote parts of the affected areas but they are safe. We have one Indian national missing who was on a business visit to Turkey in a place called Malatya. He has not been traced for the last two days. We are in touch with his family and the company in Bengaluru which employs him,” said Mr. Verma. The officials did not indicate if any Indian was affected in the Syrian area.
Mr. Verma informed that there are 3,000 Indian nationals at present in Turkey with 1,850 in and around Istanbul and 250 in Ankara. The rest are “spread all over the country”. Sources said that the Indian citizen who has been missing was staying in a hotel in Malatya and the building collapsed during the quake.
“Apart from one Indian missing and 10 Indians who are safe but are sort of in a difficult situation, we do not have any other reports at this point of time which suggest that the Indian community in that part of Turkey is under any fatal danger,” said Mr. Verma informing further that three other Indians had approached the Indian teams seeking help and have since moved to a “safer habitation and are doing alright”.
The senior diplomat said ‘Operation Dost’ was put together in consultation with multiple agencies within hours after the earthquake hit Turkey and Syria and that this is the “farthest” that Indian HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) operations over the last two decades have covered.
As part of ‘Operation Dost’, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams were sourced from Ghaziabad and Kolkata. “The first Indian team landed in Adana and the second team was diverted at Urfa and they are both being converged at Nurdaghi in Ghaziantep province which is the worst-affected area,” said Atul Karwal, Director-General of NDRF. A third team of rescuers was airlifted from Varanasi and they are expected to join the rescue operation soon after the travel formalities are completed, Mr. Karwal informed, adding that more teams can be sent to the disaster zone if required.