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Operation Dost: India Extends Help to Earthquake Hit Turkiye and Syria

The earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale struck central Turkiye and North-west Syria on February 6, followed by a series of aftershocks that caused huge devastation, loss of lives and damage to infrastructure in the two countries. 

The death toll from the earthquakes has passed 16,000. At least 12,873 people have died in Turkiye, according to officials, while at least 3,162 have been killed in Syria, as one of the most powerful quakes hit the region ever since 1939. Thousands were left injured as the quake wiped out entire sections of major cities. A total of one hundred fifty aftershocks were recorded after the earthquake. Turkiye’s armed forces have set up an air corridor to enable search and rescue teams to reach the zone and help the people in the north-west part of Syria, where Syrian communities were already hit by a decade of war.

According to Turkish officials, around 13.5 million people were affected in an area spanning roughly 450 km from Adana in the west to Diyarbakir in the east. In Syria, people were killed as far south as Hama, 250 km from the epicenter. The Turkiye -Syria earthquake led to the collapse of over 11,000 buildings and structures across both countries, while the rescue operations to help those who are stuck in the rubble are difficult due to the onslaught of the biting cold and sub-zero temperatures in several areas. The emergency assistance is being provided for both the countries by the globe and more people are being rescued by residents and rescue workers under the rubble of crushed buildings.

Raed al- Saleh of the Syrian White Helmets, known for pulling people from ruins are struggling against time to be able to assist people and families under the rubble. In an effort to help those hit by the earthquake, the Indian government is extending a hand of friendship to both countries in the form of massive humanitarian aid, with multiple jets flying off to the countries carrying relief material under ‘Operation Dost’. Indian Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi said that India will provide all the help to the earthquake affected Turkiye and Syria while addressing the India Energy Week 2023 in Karnataka, India. The External Affairs Minister and the National Security Advisor also expressed their grief and condolences on Twitter. 

Under Operation Dost, India sent to Turkiye relief materials, a mobile hospital, and specialised search and rescue teams in four C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft to support the country’s rescue efforts. A Field Hospital is also being set up at Iskenderun, Hatay province in Turkiye. Once functional, it will be a 30-bedded fully-equipped medical facility with Operation Theatre, X-ray machines, ventilators, etc. India also sent six tonnes of relief materials, including life-saving medicines and medical items, in a transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to Syria.

Turkiye’s Ambassador to India, Firat Sunel has described Operation Dost as a “very important operation” and demonstrated the friendship between the two nations. The ambassador gave the example of a Turkish proverb: ‘Dost kara g’nde belli olur’ (a friend in need is a friend indeed) and remarked that, Operation Dost is the act of friendship because DOST is the word in Hindi and Turkish which means friends and this operation shows the friendship between India and Turkiye.