THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts)
For Immediate Release Monday, August 23, 1999
U.S. Humanitarian Relief Efforts for
Turkey Earthquake Victims
Since a devastating earthquake struck Turkey August 17, President Clinton has mobilized public and private resources in a broad-ranging effort to help those affected by this natural disaster. The earthquake caused more than 12,000 deaths and 35,000 injuries, with thousands more still missing. Among the relief operations undertaken by the United States are the following:
- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) deployed two search and rescue teams to help recover earthquake survivors. One team from Fairfax Fire and Rescue, Virginia, conducted 24-hour rescue operations from August 18-22. The Fairfax team is scheduled to return to the Washington area on August 24. The second team from Metro-Dade, Florida arrived on August 21 and continues search and rescue operations. Each team included 70 rescue experts, search dogs and sensory and earth moving equipment.
- A U.S. team is also working with the United Nations to coordinate overall international rescue and relief efforts. Additional U.S. technical experts are in country to help Turkish officials assess emergency health, water and sanitation needs and recommend further U.S. assistance needed.
- A 22-member U.S. military crisis response medical team arrived August 19 and is providing medical assistance in Izmit.
- The USS Kearsarge and the USS Gunston arrived in Golcuk on August 23 and began air operations at sunrise. The USS Ponce, the third member of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, is scheduled to arrive later today. The three ships provide 2,200 marines, 22 helicopters and substantial medical support, and will help address public health and shelter needs.
- Three U.S. Naval Ships are scheduled to arrive in Turkey over the next three days to further support relief efforts. Each has the capacity to generate 100,000 gallons of water per day.
- The U.S. military is providing 3,500 family size tents to help address shelter needs, and has donated 10,000 surgical gloves, masks and medical supplies. At the Turkish government's request, the United States is also providing 10,000 body bags.
- A USAID-chartered plane delivered 30,000 blankets, 500 rolls of plastic sheeting for shelter and medicine for 10,000 people. A second airlift carrying water purification units capable of assisting 28,000 persons is scheduled to arrive on August 24.
The President encourages Americans to help the Turkish people by providing support to relief agencies that are active in the region. Cash donations will enable these organizations to purchase exactly what is needed, locally and regionally, thus speeding up the delivery of assistance. For more information on organizations active in Turkey, call 1-800-USAID-RELIEF or access the USAID web site at www.info.usaid.gov.