Earthquake in Turkey: Independent Appeal to aid victims

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The Independent Online
THE INDEPENDENT today launches an appeal to help the victims of the Turkish earthquake. All money donated will be sent through the British Red Cross to help the 100,000 victims and repair the damage to essential services. It will also be used for long-term rebuilding projects.

Following a request from the Turkish Red Crescent, the International Red Cross has launched an initial appeal for $6.92m (pounds 4.5m). In other promises of aid, the European Union said it was sending $2.1m, Britain will donate $800,000 and other countries and international charities have pledged $1.4m so far.

Greece, Turkey's traditional enemy, has joined dozens of countries in sending teams of rescuers to search for survivors still trapped under rubble, although the scale of the disaster has not been enough to persuade Greece to lift its block on EU aid to Turkey.

Among the rescuers are 30 British firefighters, including 10 members of Kent Fire Brigade's search-and-rescue team, who were all to fly from RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire to Izmit, the centre of the earthquake, yesterday. They will join 27 other British firefighters - from brigades in Cheshire, Leicestershire, Mid and West Wales, South Wales and the West Midlands - and 13 members of the International Rescue Corps who started search- and-rescue work in Dezce, east of Izmit, yesterday.

They were equipped with thermal-imaging cameras, videoprobes, lighting and cutting tools to help free those still trapped, said by some reports to be as many as 10,000. Also heading to the region today were 10 members of a specialist British search and rescue team from the Gloucester-based charity Rapid UK.

The focus of search-and-rescue efforts was Izmit, the northwestern industrial city at the epicentre of the quake, which measured 7.4 on the Richter scale. However, Turkey's Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, said many rescue workers had not yet reached quake-hit areas because of damaged communications and roads.

Rescuers burrowed into flattened apartment buildings in Izmit in search of survivors as firefighting aircraft from the US and Israel helped to douse a nearby fire threatening to blow up Turkey's largest oil refinery.

More planes were on their way from France, Germany and Greece as Mr Ecevit warned that the refinery fire was the most dangerous problem caused by the quake.