Almost two weeks after the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, the 82-member Chinese rescue team that arrived in Turkey on February 8 has completed its tasks and returned to China on Friday. Six people were successfully rescued by the team from underneath the ruins, and another 11 victims were found.
Another team, dispatched from China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, sent 59 members to aid Turkey, and also returned with the Chinese national team. Four people were saved from the ruins by the Hong Kong SAR team.
On Friday afternoon, the Chinese and Hong Kong SAR teams arrived at the Beijing Capital International Airport. They were warmly received by representatives of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council. Turkish Ambassador to China Abdulkadir Emin ?nen also arrived at the airport to welcome them.
Before leaving the camp at the epicenter Hatay on Thursday, the team left food, drinking water, tents and all of their medical supplies for local residents.
After arriving at the epicenter on February 8, the Chinese rescue team spared no efforts in finding life from the wreck. Zhao Ming, the team leader, said that they have searched a total of 87 buildings covering an area of over 700,000 square meters. Six people were successfully rescued, and another 11 victims were found.
"The rescue team overcame all kinds of difficulties such as aftershocks, freezing cold, tight supplies and traffic congestion. Our members always remained faithful and focused on their search and rescue work," said Zhao, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
In addition to the official Chinese and Hong Kong SAR rescue teams, a total of 441 people from 17 private Chinese emergency response teams joined the rescue work, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Members of Blue Sky Rescue, a Chinese civil relief squad, are also returning home. They have been assisting rescue operations in Malatya and Adiyaman provinces in Turkey since February 9, dispatching a total of 103 squads of 341 people to the rescue site.
As of press time, they have found nine survivors and 137 victims, the Global Times learned from Blue Sky Rescue on Friday.
Although the Chinese rescuers only stayed in Turkey for a few days, they formed a deep bond with the local people. Wang Yi, chief director of Blue Sky Rescue, told the Global Times that he remembered a scene that particularly touched him, when a local official with the emergency management bureau paid a visit to Wang's office there at midnight after an exhausting day of work.
"She was injured, but she got into search and rescue work immediately, dealing with all kinds of emergencies almost nonstop for 24 hours a day. She said to me, choking with emotions, that she had not had time to thank us properly, and she should have given us the best food they have. She hopes the next time we visit Turkey, she can cook us a meal," Wang recalled.
"I felt tears in my eyes. Rescue work has no borders. As an emergency responder, no matter what kind of difficulty you are in, once you are needed, you have to be there. This is our duty," Wang said.
The work of the Chinese rescue team was highly appreciated by the Turkish side. When sending off the Chinese team on Tuesday, the regional coordinator of the Turkish Foreign Ministry expressed his deep appreciation for the Chinese rescue team's hard work, saying that their efforts will promote the development of relations between the two countries.
Liu Shaobin, Chinese Ambassador to Turkey, noted that the Chinese rescue team's efforts fully embody the international humanitarian spirit of the Chinese government, reflecting the friendship between the two sides of watching over each other and jointly tackling difficulties, adding that it is an application of the concept of building a global community of shared future.
"We haven't ceased witnessing the sincere support of the Chinese people since the earthquake. They are continuously sending us offers of help in a moving spirit of solidarity with the Turkish people," Ambassador Onen told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.