Malaysia, through the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team SMART, is one of the first countries to assist Turkey in the search and rescue (SAR) of earthquake victims in the country, with the team successfully mobilised within 24 hours.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah, Sarawak Affairs and Special Duties) Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali said that the 70-member team led by Commander Mohd Khairul Jamil arrived safely in Turkey at 5.50am local time (10.50am Malaysian time) today.
“They will head to the Adana Airport which is close to ground zero, and there they will begin their duties as coordinated by the Turkish government to be assigned to the respective zones.
“The Turkish government has so far requested help with regard to urban search and rescue, which is why we have sent the SMART team,” he said in an exclusive interview on Bernama Radio today.
SMART, which comprises a medical team from the Royal Health Corps (KKD) and the K9 Unit of the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) and a special hazardous chemical (Hazmat) team left for Istanbul yesterday via a Turkish Airlines flight.
Mohd Armizan said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who has a good relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had instructed him and Wisma Putra to immediately coordinate teams to help following the disaster on Monday that had claimed over 2,300 lives so far.
Meanwhile, he said meetings would be held with the Turkish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to determine the need for an Emergency Medical Team (EMT) to be deployed to the country, and this would be coordinated with Wisma Putra and the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma).
Nadma officers, he said, had also been tasked with collecting information from parties who intend to channel aid to Turkey as a proactive measure, although the Turkish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur had informed that as of now, only help in terms of SAR operations was required at present.
“However, any parties who wish to channel aid can contact Nadma or Wisma Putra, or get in touch directly with the Turkish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur,” he added.