Arrival of the Czech USAR team, which helped in Turkey with the search and rescue of people from the rubble after the earthquake, February 17, 2023, Mošnov, Novojičínsko. Rescuers were welcomed at the airport by family members.
Mošnov (Novojičín Region) – Dozens of family members emotionally welcomed the Czech rescuers at the airport in Mošnov in Novojičín Region today, who helped in the Turkish city of Adiyaman with the consequences of a devastating earthquake with many victims. There were banners and tears of emotion. The rescuers unanimously described that the mission was demanding and the Czech team did a very good job.
Photo gallery: Earthquake in Turkey and Syria
“The feelings (after returning) are certainly joyful. I'm with my family. I'll be home. We've got it all behind us and we can be proud of ourselves. You've never experienced such great despair and such conditions that those people are experiencing there. It's unimaginable, can't even explain,” Petr Klega, head of the group of dog handlers, told journalists.
According to him, it turned out that the so-called USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) team was very well prepared, although there is always room for improvement. “We didn't encounter anything that surprised us in any significant way. We were prepared. However, it was a sharp hit, unique and the first for me personally on such a scale,” said Klega.
She is mainly looking forward to rest, which she will now also give to her four-legged dog companion, Terezka. “Unlike me, I don't notice any fatigue on Terezka. I think, even if it sounds stupid now, she started to enjoy it after a while. Of course, she was stressed for the first two days, because it was something she hadn't known yet. However, once she found out that she was important there, which is what she needed, she started working and was happy with the work overall, so I didn't even feel that she was suffering in any way or under any great stress,” said Klega.< /p>
Aleš Chromý, who himself worked as a professional firefighter for 30 years, was also waiting for his son Michal with tears in his eyes. “We're all very excited as a family. We've been watching them the whole time. I've also been a paramedic for 30 years, so of course there were concerns, especially when my son has two young children at home. I'm really proud of him. We were all worried as a family, but we were the whole time we were connected, we communicated with each other, we informed each other. This was the first time my son was on a mission of this scale,” Chromý said.
“The welcome was emotional and nice. We didn't expect it. We had no information that something like this would be prepared for us here. I was really looking forward to coming home,” said Chromý after his return from Turkey. Like other firefighters, he emphasized that the important thing is that the whole team returned safely. “The worst experience was seeing the rubble. It certainly looks different on TV than live. And then pulling out the victims. It's not for everyone,” Chromý said. His family or perhaps sports help him the most in clearing his head. He perceives working in Turkey as another experience.
According to the head of the Czech team, Jiří Němčík, the mission was quite extraordinary. “I'm glad that we did a piece of good work that was appreciated not only in Turkey, but we also had a response from the Czech Republic. For me, as the team leader, the most important thing is that we all returned in good health. What you the guys met in the rubble, there was nothing you wanted to see or what any of us wanted to see. We are professional firefighters, but the amount, the pressure and the conditions were enormous,” said Němčík.
In Prague a plane with paramedics landed
Today at 4:40 p.m., a plane carrying Czech rescue workers who were helping the Turkish city of Adiyaman with the consequences of a devastating earthquake landed at Prague's Václav Havel Airport. They rescued 78 dead and two living people from the rubble. The rescuers were welcomed at the airport by Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan (STAN) and the Turkish ambassador in Prague. According to the Austrian, the rescuers gave the Czech Republic a very good name, he appreciated their work, but also how quickly they went to Turkey. Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) also thanked the rescuers on Facebook in the early evening.
According to the latest data, the earthquake that hit the southeast of Turkey and the northwest of neighboring Syria claimed almost 44,000 lives on February 6. Of these, more than 38,000 dead are in Turkey. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this is the worst natural disaster in the region in the last century.
The so-called USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) team left for Turkey on the evening of Monday, February 6, and has been deployed continuously since Tuesday. “A huge thank you goes to them. They showed what Czech rescuers can do,” said the Austrian. According to him, the interior allowed departure within hours and the Czechs were one of the first to arrive at the site. According to the Austrian, they proved to be beneficial exercises, thanks to which the logistics were mastered flawlessly.
The Austrian described the mission participants as heroes. “They made the Czech Republic a great name in conditions that were unimaginable for an ordinary civilian,” he added. The work was sad and depressing, but also rewarded with happiness, the Austrian said. Last week, Czech rescuers rescued two people alive from the rubble, a dog from a Czech canine group helped colleagues from another team find another living woman in the rubble.
The Czech Republic originally sent a team of 68 rescuers to Turkey, whose members included firefighters and doctors , civil engineers or cynologists. He was joined at the weekend by two more firefighters who flew in on an Army CASA plane along with a load of humanitarian aid and firefighting equipment. The humanitarian aid mainly consisted of clothing.
The general director of the Fire and Rescue Service, Vladimír Vlček, said at the airport that in the Turkish city of Adiyaman, the rescuers did a great job, which is also appreciated by the locals. “If we take the total performance of all 18 teams in Adiyaman, the Czech team performed 26 percent. From Turkey's point of view, almost ten percent of the performances of all foreign teams,” he said.
Czech team leader Jiří Němčík appreciated the support that she was getting to the rescuers. “Everyone was aware that in this extremely difficult situation, which is our goal, no one was inclined to relent even for a moment,” he said. The Turkish ambassador in Prague, Egemen Bagis, thanked the Czech Republic and the Czech citizens for true friendship and solidarity.
Němčík then said that the rescue team saw the point in finishing the job and despite the fact that the probability of finding survivors was slim, they searched until the end. “The fact that we somehow managed to contribute to the fact that we were able to save someone, that's what gave us the most kick,” he said.
According to rescue team canine specialist Matěj Bartošík, the locals responded beyond expectations. “The cooperation was perfect, I think that the locals evaluated very positively the fact that we came to help them from a distance of over 2,000 kilometers and that we brought everything to be self-sufficient,” Bartošík told ČTK. According to him, the local army provided them with facilities and supplied the team with food.
The plane of the company Smartwings and two planes of the Czech army delivered to Turkey today blankets from the warehouses of the State Material Reserves Administration (SSHR), consumable medical equipment purchased from the Medevac program or 500 trauma sets from the Czech Red Cross. According to the Ministry of the Interior, the shipment contained, for example, bandages, sutures, gloves, tourniquets, cannulas and surgical instruments.