Shenzhen rescuers share quake relief experiences

Writer: Han Ximin  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2023-02-22

Yang Chao, a member of the Shenzhen Rescue Volunteers Federation (SRVF), searches for buried or missing victims under the rubble in Türkiye on Feb. 13. Courtesy of SRVF

In seven days of racing against time, searching amid the debris for missing victims in the quake-hit region in Türkiye, members of the Shenzhen Rescue Volunteers Federation (SRVF) overcame challenges and completed their mission.

The 23-member volunteer team from Shenzhen, working in groups under the coordination of the Chinese rescue team, helped rescue three trapped victims, evacuated the remains of 10 victims and completed five assessment reports commissioned by the U.N. and Turkish site commanding offices.

During an interview yesterday after returning to Shenzhen, some members shared their rescue work experiences.

“Unlike the previous rescue work for the Nepal earthquake in 2015 and the Indonesia tsunami in 2018, the most challenging part of the Turkish earthquake was the frequent aftershocks that happened whenever you were doing rescue work or resting,” said Yang Chao, a member of the SRVF.

Shenzhen rescuers make risk assessments in Türkiye. Courtesy of SRVF

On Feb. 13, Yang participated in rescuing victims under building debris. The moment he went down to the building, he hesitated since it was a matter of life and death if any aftershocks occurred.

“I am only human with a family and children back in Shenzhen. However, it became my duty when I donned my rescue uniform and voluntarily went to Türkiye to work with local rescuers,” he said. Yang has been doing volunteer rescue work for 11 years.

The other challenge from the devastating earthquake was the various incessant tasks the team encountered going around different locations to search for buried or missing victims, evacuating them and making risk assessment reports.

“We didn’t have enough hands on the frontline, but we had a lot of support from local people and organizations. The headquarters back in Shenzhen provided logistics, telecommunications and virtual operation support,” said Yang, who is engaged in marine logistics in Shenzhen.

Team member Chen Tao felt proud for the Chinese team’s professionalism that was widely recognized by other teams and international organizations. At the camping site near a stadium, many rescue teams from different countries were stationed to take their assignments.

In addition to the official mainland and Hong Kong rescue teams, a total of 441 people from 17 private Chinese emergency response teams joined the rescue work, according to the Foreign Ministry.

“The Chinese teams’ camps were the largest with the most members. Chinese enterprises in Türkiye were ready with excavators for the rescue teams. Shenzhen-made DJI drones were also used for the search mission,” said Chen Yuan, leader of the rescue team who was responsible for coordinating with other organizations.

“We worked closely with local emergency authorities when we first arrived at the scene and worked out a risk assessment report as early as possible. It was a challenge as buildings and houses were reduced to rubbles or near collapsing,” Chen said.

The death toll from the quakes two weeks ago rose to 41,156 in Türkiye by Monday and is expected to climb further, with 385,000 apartments known to have been destroyed or seriously damaged and many people still missing, according to a source from the Turkish Government.