In a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán offered Hungary’s help and expressed his sympathies for the victims of the devastating earthquake that rocked Turkey in the small hours of Monday. Orbán said he was ‘deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the severe earthquake that struck southern Turkey and resulted in significant property damage and fatalities. At this time, I would also like to reiterate to you that Hungary supports Turkey in this terrible situation,’ Orbán wrote.
The Hungarian Prime Minister added: ‘On this sad occasion, I express my sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wish the injured a speedy recovery, while at the same time expressing my hope that the Hungarian donation can contribute to the success of the rescue efforts.’ Orbán also expressed his sympathies on Twitter.
Hungarian President Katalin Novák also tweeted a message conveying her condolences to the families of the victims.
The original 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck ten provinces in southern Turkey and had an impact on northern Syria as well, has reportedly resulted in over a thousand deaths and thousands of injuries, according to reports from Turkey. Since the first disaster, a second, 7.6-magnitude earthquake has also struck the area.
Orbán: Hungary Helps
Similarly to many other nations, Hungary has pledged to help with the rescue operations. A 50-person search and rescue team, including six doctors, organised under the direction of the National Directorate General for Disaster Management, departed for Turkey, according to Monday’s announcement by Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó.
‘Hungary and the Hungarian nation have a friend in Turkey, in the Turkish nation,’ Minister Szijjártó said
in a video broadcast on his Facebook page: ‘It is only right that we stand by our Turkish friends in this situation and would support in every manner we can.’ According to Szijjártó, the interior minister of Hungary has been in touch with his Turkish counterpart, and Hungary has offered a squad with extensive search and rescue experience.
‘There is always a chance that individuals who are trapped under the rubble may not be rescued in time after a strong earthquake, so we are hopeful that these efforts will be effective and that we will be able to prevent a significant increase in the number of victims.’
He continued by saying that he had recently spoken to his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Cavusoglu, and had conveyed his condolences as well as the fact that Hungary was prepared to offer all assistance in the search for survivors, the treatment of those who had been hurt, and the repair of infrastructure that had been damaged. The Secretary of State for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and the Hungary Helps Program, Azbej Tristan, has already organised a meeting to analyse the crisis situation brought on by the earthquakes in northern Syria and southern Turkey as well as the potential for humanitarian aid.
On Tuesday morning, Péter Szijjártó announced that Hungary is sending additional aid to Turkey, in the value of 40 million HUF, alongside 46 paramedics and 15 rescue dogs.
Viktor Orbán announced on Twitter earlier today that the Hungarian rescue team consisting of firefighters is now in Turkey.
The PM posted the following short message on Facebook: ‘Hungary helps. The Hunor Rescue Team has arrived in Turkey. Respect to the heroes!’
Hungarians in Turkey Are Safe
On Monday afternoon, Péter Szijjártó also revealed that the Hungarian Embassy in Ankara had experienced earthquake-related symptoms and that the director of the diplomatic mission had ordered a temporary evacuation of the structure. Soon a structural engineer will be there to assess the building’s condition. The consulate has made contact with affected Hungarians in the area, all seven of whom are safe. ‘We have also advised Hungarian citizens in Turkey, 213 of whom have requested consular protection, not to travel to certain regions of the nation. We are in daily contact with the one Hungarian who is known to be in the catastrophe region,’ he said.
Additionally, he requested that any Hungarian citizens who were in the disaster-affected area contact the embassy in Ankara or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ consular service. Szijjártó emphasized that devastating to portions of Syria, the earthquake caused significant damage to a number of Christian communities with which the government of Hungary maintains diplomatic links.
The women’s handball team of Győri ETO was in Turkey, the embassy was in continuous communication with them, and they departed from Istanbul in the evening, and arrived safely since, according to the foreign minister. The junior football team from Ferencváros is still in training camp in Turkey and is expected to fly back to Hungary later this week.
On Tuesday morning, Péter Szijjártó announced that Hungary is sending additional aid to Turkey. The consulate has made contact with affected Hungarians in the area, all seven of them are safe. He added that the government is sending aid equalling 40 million Forints, alongside with 46 paramedics and 15 rescue dogs.
Number of Reported Casualties Still Growing
At the time of writing this article, the number of victims in Turkey and Syria has reportedly surpassed 4938. The tragedy, according to the Turkish president, was the biggest disaster since the Erzincan earthquake in 1939. According to Turkish Energy and National Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez, damage has been done to natural gas transmission and distribution lines as well as electrical transmission lines. Turkey proclaimed a level 4 alert status following the initial earthquake, which includes an appeal for international assistance.