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Bulgaria among the first countries to respond to the call for help following Turkey earthquake

Photo: Ministry of Interior

After the devastating earthquakes early this morning in Turkey and neighbouring Syria, an international search and rescue team left Bulgaria’s second-biggest city Plovdiv this afternoon to help the victims in Bulgaria’s southern neighbour. The team includes 58 rescuers and firefighters from all over the country, as well as 20 units of specialized rescue equipment. There are 16 firefighters from the Plovdiv Fire Department in the rescue task force. They are trained to work in the aftermath of earthquakes and have full equipment for this, including searching for people under the debris of collapsed buildings. 

According to Chief Inspector Dimitar Brishimov, the team formed in Bulgaria will remain on field as long as necessary:

"These guys have previously expressed a desire to participate in such a module that is certified in the EU. They conducted repeated training and education, including abroad, so that the module could be compatible with other forces and teams and have autonomy for at least three days. They have water, food and everything they need so that they are not a burden on the country where they are helping."

Two "Spartan" planes of the Bulgarian Air Force left for Turkey earlier today, and the National Association of Volunteers in Bulgaria is sending specialized teams tomorrow morning. Among them are a doctor and three paramedics, as well as people who have completed specialized earthquake response courses. One of them is paramedic Georgi Vlaikov, head of a team of 10 people from the Emergency Rescue Plovdiv association, who in an interview with BNR said that he hopes they will help in the best way.

"About 20 people are leaving tomorrow morning”, indicated Vlaikov. “We are in contact with colleagues on the spot there who are rescuers in Turkey. The situation is quite bad, there are many aftershocks, there are many people in distress. It is winter there at the moment and they are sleeping in tents."

15 people of the emergency department of Sofia Municipality, equipped with specialized search and rescue equipment, including thermal cameras, are already on the ground. At the same time, another 13 mountain rescuers of the Bulgarian Red Cross and five trained dogs are also preparing to leave for Turkey.

"We will certainly do what we can," Atanas Ukov, a rescue dog trainer, told BNR. “We will do our best. Hopefully we can help."

In an interview with BNT, Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev pointed out that Bulgaria was one of the first European countries to come to the rescue.

Earlier today, in a special interview for Radio Bulgaria, Turkey's ambassador to Bulgaria, Eileen Sekizkök, thanked Bulgaria, the Bulgarian government and the entire Bulgarian people for their support: "May God bless them! For us, the help from neighbouring Bulgaria is very important and significant!", stressed Ambassador Sekizkök.
"You only know a true friend in dark difficult times. As soon as it became known about the earthquake, in the very early hours of the day, President Rumen Radev called me and stated that the Bulgarian state was ready to help us with all possible means”, Ambassador Sekizkök said for the Turkish-language program of Radio Bulgaria. 

At the moment, the Association of Volunteers in Bulgaria is collecting funds for fuel, consumables, medicines and essentials, with which the Bulgarian teams can be more effective on the eartquake sites and, above all, ensure their safety in the extremely difficult conditions, at sub-zero temperatures . They are expected to stay there for at least a week.

"Our boys and girls will sleep in field conditions and are expected to perform very difficult tasks”, urges the Association. “Let's together provide them with everything they need to be calm and save human lives! Thank you in advance!". You can donate via the button or by making a transfer to our account.”

The bank account of the National Association of Volunteers in the Republic of Bulgaria" is the following:

UniCredit Bulbank AD
IBAN: BG11 UNCR 7000 1522 2002 11

Compiled by Darina Grigorova

Photos: Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Defence, Military Medical Academy

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