KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 — Malaysia Airports Managing Director Datuk Iskandar Mizal Mahmood today said that their operations at the Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (ISG) in Turkey had facilitated the rescue and cargo flights using the facility during an earthquake that hit the country.
Iskandar said the airport is playing an important role in search and rescue (SAR) efforts at the moment after the Turkish government made it one of the two rescue and logistics hubs as well as a crisis management center by providing necessary support including food for rescue teams.
“As the operator of this airport, we are fully committed to facilitating all rescue flights and cargo operations that pass through ISG.
“The first rescue flight took off at 8.41am local time and until now, six similar flights have taken off from the airport carrying 1,400 rescue personnel,” he said in a statement today.
Iskandar Mizal said that his side is also working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide additional assistance by providing transit accommodation for 75 members of the Malaysian Special Search and Rescue Team (SMART) at the hotel within the airport before they are moved to the affected areas.
He said he was saddened by the tragedy and offered his condolences to the families of the earthquake victims.
“We will continue to offer any assistance needed,” he said.
Malaysia is sending the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) to Turkey to assist in search and rescue efforts to locate victims of the earthquake in southern Turkey 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 Turkey following the earthquake that hit 10 regions.
The earthquake that hit the southern region of Kahramanmaras at 4.17am local time (0117 GMT) early yesterday 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 Turkey, with another 476 deaths recorded in Syria so far.