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South Korea to provide $5m aid, dispatch rescue workers to Turkey

Yoon sends condolence message to Turkish president, promising all possible assistance

Feb. 7, 2023 - 11:49 By Shin Ji-hye By Choi Si-young

President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks at the Cabinet meeting at the Government Complex Sejong on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The South Korean government on Tuesday decided to provide $5 million in emergency humanitarian aid, dispatch rescue personnel and provide emergency medical supplies to support Turkey, which is suffering from massive casualties after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Monday.

President Yoon Suk Yeol also sent a message to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to express his special condolences and promise that "all possible assistance" would be provided for a speedy recovery.

“I would like to express my deepest condolences to the people who lost their loved ones in the earthquake,” Yoon said at a Cabinet meeting in the morning, with deaths estimated at nearly 4,000 people near the Turkish-Syrian border.

“Turkey is a brother country which protected our freedom by sending many troops without delay when we were invaded by communists in 1950,” Yoon said.

“It is only natural to help our brother country Turkey,” he said. “Such a massive loss of life should be regarded as an international disaster beyond a national disaster, and we should fulfill our role and responsibility in the international community.”

He urged each ministry to actively cooperate in helping and supporting the disaster, saying dispatching the necessary medicines and rescue personnel is the most important at quake sites.

The president instructed relevant ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to dispatch rescue workers and emergency medical supplies using South Korean military transport planes, according to a written statement released by Yoon’s press secretary Kim Eun-hye in the morning. Accordingly, government-level relief teams, including some 60 international rescue workers, will be dispatched to Turkey.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a special travel advisory for six provinces in the southeastern part of Turkey. The regions include Kahramanmaras, Malatya, Adıyaman, Osmaniye, Adana and Hatay.

The ministry has yet to confirm casualties, though it is still trying to locate a Korean who had been traveling across Hatay province, the country's southernmost region where about 100 Koreans reside. Another Korean also thought to be traveling across the province was identified as safe.

The ministry plans to closely monitor the local situation in the region and maintain a travel advisory until the dangerous situation is resolved.

A day earlier, when the earthquake hit, Yoon instructed the National Security Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to “prepare active support measures from a humanitarian perspective.”

In a separate Twitter message, he said Monday night, “We are ready to help Turkey, our compatriots forged by blood during the Korean War, in any way.”

The ministry said it will provide $300,000 in aid to Iran for its efforts to recover from a January earthquake that killed at least three people. The United Nations had asked for help, the ministry added.