On Saturday, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev visited Türkiye to show solidarity with the Turkish people who were severely impacted by the deadly earthquakes earlier this month.
President Aliyev’s one-day trip to Türkiye included a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul. During the meeting, President Aliyev conveyed his sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of the earthquake victims on behalf of both himself and the people of Azerbaijan. He also expressed his well wishes for a quick recovery to those who were injured.
According to the Azerbaijani president, Azerbaijan has stood by its brotherly ally, Türkiye, since the first day of the earthquake tragedy and will persist in providing humanitarian aid to help alleviate the aftermath of the earthquake.
On February 6, two earthquakes with magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5 struck Türkiye in the early morning hours. The impact of these powerful earthquakes was felt in southern provinces and cities throughout the country, including Kahramanmarash, Kilis, Diyarbakir, Adana, Osmaniye, Gaziantep, Shanliurfa, Adiyaman, Malatya, and Hatay. According to the latest data, the earthquakes resulted in the loss of 44,374 lives and left over 108,000 people injured in Türkiye. In addition, the quakes, along with nearly 10,000 aftershocks, caused extensive damage to more than 173,000 buildings, leaving almost two million residents displaced and homeless.
At present, a total of 8,182 search and rescue personnel are collaborating to clear debris and undertake other related tasks in the disaster zones. Furthermore, roughly 230,000 Turkish emergency and disaster response officers are presently engaged in the areas impacted by the earthquakes.
Azerbaijan was among the first countries to provide assistance to the disaster zones in Türkiye, offering aid on the very first day following the earthquakes.
Following the reports of the deadly earthquakes on February 6, President Ilham Aliyev promptly directed the Azerbaijani Ministry of Emergency Situations to send rescue forces to Türkiye to aid in the aftermath of the disaster. The initial team, which included 420 rescuers, cynologists, and eight rescue dogs, departed on the same day. Additionally, the ministry dispatched another aircraft carrying first aid kits, tents, bedding, medical supplies, and other essential equipment to help those impacted by the earthquakes, all under the same directive from President Aliyev.
Based on data compiled by the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan as of February 21, a total of 867 Azerbaijani rescuers have been aiding search and rescue operations in the disaster zones impacted by the earthquakes.
As of February 21, the comprehensive state-sponsored humanitarian aid package provided to Türkiye encompasses a wide range of supplies, including 2 field hospitals, 6,872 tents, 4 field kitchens, 899 power generators, 239,819 humanitarian essentials, 318,273 pieces of warm clothing, 1,412,594 medicines and medical supplies, 12,790 heaters and other equipment, and 183 mobile container homes. This list does not include assistance provided by Azerbaijani individuals and private companies.
In addition, Azerbaijan has provided financial aid amounting to 25 million AZN ($14.6 million).
Additionally, the gas stations owned by Azerbaijan’s state-run energy company, SOCAR, have been providing fuel free of charge to the emergency medical services vehicles, firefighting crews, and emergency convoys of the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).
According to CNN, citing the United States Geological Survey, the earthquakes that hit Türkiye on February 6 were the strongest to strike the country since 1939 when an earthquake of the same magnitude resulted in the loss of 30,000 lives.
The head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Davis Beasley, described the devastation caused by the earthquakes as “incomprehensible” and the landscape as “apocalyptic” during his visit to the Hatay region in southern Türkiye last week.