Zambry: Malaysia sends 70 SMART personnel to assist in efforts to locate earthquake victims in Turkiye


Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir greets the SMART personnel leaving for Turkiye, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang February 6, 2023. – Bernama photo

SEPANG (Feb 7): Malaysia is sending the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) to Turkiye to assist search and rescue (SAR) efforts to locate victims of the earthquake in southern Turkiye as a sign of solidarity with those affected by the disaster.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim instructed Wisma Putra and Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs and Special Functions) Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali to take immediate action by sending a SAR team to Turkiye following the earthquake that hit 10 regions.

He said the Foreign Ministry together with the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) under the Prime Minister’s Department, the Malaysian embassy in Turkiye and the Turkiye embassy in Malaysia would coordinate the operation to ensure everything will run smoothly without complications.

“I reached out to Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to get an idea of the situation there and he voiced their urgent needs, including SAR assistance, followed by aid in the form of medicine and other humanitarian aid,” he told the media at the send-off of the SAR mission at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport here last night.

Armizan, SAR mission chief Cmdr Mohd Khairul Jamil and Turkey ambassador to Malaysia Emir Salim Yuksel, were also present.

Zambry said 12 Malaysians in the affected regions of Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa and Adana have contacted the Malaysian embassy in Turkiye and were confirmed to be safe.

Meanwhile, Mohd Khairul there were 70 personnel in the SMART team, including a medical team from the Royal Medical Corps, the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department’s K9 Unit and a hazardous chemical materials special team, that departed last night for Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines flight.

He said the team will report in as soon they arrived in the affecting area and will be mobilised according to the secretariat that is determining the areas for the SAR operations, adding that the team was experienced in SAR operations, and have been involved in 12 operations, including an earthquake that hit Izmit, Turkiye in 1999.

The team was also accredited by the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) in 2016, which enabled the team to be sent to participate in disaster missions abroad.

The earthquake that hit the southern region of Kahramanmaras at 4.17am local time (0117 GMT) early Monday morning measured 7.4 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre at Pazarcik district. Media reports have indicated that the earthquake has taken at least 912 lives in southern Turkiye, with another 476 deaths recorded in Syria so far. — Bernama