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Greek Rescue Team Returns from Turkey as Hopes of Survival Fade

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The Greek rescue team returned from Turkey on Sunday. Credit: AMNA

The rescue team from Greece sent to Turkey after the devastating 7.8 Richter earthquake that occurred in the early hours of February 6 in Turkey and Syria returned to Athens.

Security risks put a handful of search and rescue operations on hold on Sunday, as the death toll of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey surpassed 33,000 people. The death toll in Turkey has climbed to 29,605, Turkish Emergency Coordination Center SAKOM said Sunday.

The Greek mission consisted of 36 officers of the 1st and 2nd EMAK (Special Disaster Response Unit), two officers – engineers of the Fire Brigade with specialization in supporting the ruins of collapsed buildings, eight doctors and ambulance service paramedics, three rescue dogs and three special rescue vehicles, as well as the head of the Organisation for Anti-Seismic Planning and Protection (OASP), Professor Efthymis Lekkas.

The Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, Christos Stylianidis, spoke of a great and moving moment during the reception of the mission at the Athens International airport.

The minister emphasized that these people “honored the Greek colors” and sent the message everywhere “that Greece was present there in this moment of humanity”.

“With their act, they defined what solidarity means. They defined solidarity in practice with their humanity”, said Stylianidis and added that “from the first night they tried and proved their professionalism, their dedication and their self-sacrifice”.

“We did what we would do in our country,” the head of the 1st EMAK, Dimitris Roupas, said upon his arrival to the Athens airport.

Greece vows to continue humanitarian aid to Turkey

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias promised on Feb. 12 to continue Greek humanitarian assistance to Turkey over the devastating earthquake.

“We will continue to do our best to overcome difficult times, both at the bilateral and EU level,” the Greek minister said in a joint press statement with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in the southern quake-hit province of Hatay.

Dendias paid a visit to Turkey in a show of support, despite a longstanding rivalry between the two NATO countries.

Having a meeting in southern Adana Airport first, the Greek minister with his Turkish counterpart headed to Hatay, where Greek rescuers are helping with search and rescue operations.

“Thank you to the Greek search and rescue teams. From the day they arrived, they made an effort 24/7. Good neighborliness is evident on such days,” Çavuşoğlu said.

“The fact that Dendias is here today shows the solidarity of the Greek government and people with Türkiye. After the earthquake occurred, Greece was one of the first countries to call and help Türkiye,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Despite a history of rivalry with Turkey that goes back centuries, Greece was among the first European countries to send rescue workers and humanitarian aid on Feb. 6, a few hours after the disaster.

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