On 20 March NSW Fire and Rescue and Australian Turkish community arranged a “Welcome home dinner” for Australia’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) returned from Turkey at the Fire and Rescue NSW Emergency Service Academy at Orchard Hills in Sydney’s South-West.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and scores more injured by a huge earthquake which struck south-eastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, in February.
Australia deployed a team of 72 personnel comprised representatives from Fire and Rescue NSW, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, ACT Fire and Rescue, New South Wales Departments of Health and Public Works, NSW Ambulance, NSW Police, representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Turkey.
Turkey and Australia have a productive, warm and developing relationship, with substantial dialogue across a wide range of issues including counter-terrorism. Both countries are members of the G20 and MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia) forum.
Australian Defence Force transported DART personnel and equipment to and from Turkey; this deployment was part of Australia’s $18 million humanitarian assistance package.
The earthquake was deadly and registered as 7.8 with a classification of “major” on the official magnitude scale that broke along about 100 KM of fault line, causing serious damage to buildings. According to the World Bank the estimated direct damages is US$34.2 billion an equivalent of four per cent of Turkey’s GDP in 2021.
The program began with NSW Fire and Rescue Commissioner Paul Baxter addressing the audience and briefed the situation in Turkey and how Australian Team managed to contribute in the situation. He also thanked the entire team and their family for their sacrifice and support.
NSW Fire and Rescue Chief Superintendent Darryl Dunbar, theTask Force Leader of Australian Response Team in Turkeyshared firsthand experience with the audience.
Onur Ayyildiz is among the 72-member Australian Team was the personal connection for Aussie in Turkey quake mission. As his Turkish heritage and language skills he also played as a translator for his team and worked alongside with desperate locals and other international rescue crews. Onur also spoke at the gathering and shared his personal experience with the victims and their family.
NSW Fire and Rescue chief superintendent David Lewis was the MC for the evening. NSW Fire and Rescue Business Support Officer and Turkish community leader, Ms. Pinar Tajjourthanked Task Team and the Turkish business owners who facilitated delicious Turkish cuisine for the evening with traditional Turkish sweets.