The Hellenic Rescue Team  undertook its rescue mission as it joined an international effort to help Turkish authorities deal with the immediate aftermath of the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria in early February.

A 27-person rescue team from the Greek-based search-and-rescue (SAR) organisation collaborated with Turkish authorities, the United Nations’ International Search and Rescue Advisory Group and rescue teams worldwide to help search for and rescue people trapped in buildings that had collapsed as a result of the earthquake.

Specifically, the Hellenic Rescue Team aided rescue efforts in the city of Aidyaman, Turkey, and was directly responsible for successfully rescuing three people trapped under debris during the mission.

“Immediately following the disaster, the Turkish government quickly turned to international urban SAR (USAR) rescue organisations and Greece was one of the first countries to respond. Our Operations Manager and Board were in constant contact with local authorities in Greece and Turkey to ensure our team safely reached the affected area and could begin supporting rescue efforts immediately,” said Fotis Sarigiannis, President of the Hellenic Rescue Team.

The rescue team worked in shifts in several buildings, often in adverse conditions and freezing temperatures that reached -17°C at night, to search for and retrieve trapped people and provide first aid.

During the operation, the Hellenic Rescue Team provided rescue lifting air cushions, power generators, rescue tool kits, thermal cameras, large spotlights, tents, communication devices, telecommunications antennas, sked and board stretchers, defibrillators and several first aid packsacks. The team also consisted of trained and experienced members in USAR, first aid and telecommunications, a rescue dog, Speedy, and three interpreters, as well as an entire team based in Greece that supported the team remotely.

“Dealing with massive loss of human life and witnessing the desperation of those affected is always the greatest challenge in such huge disasters. People were crying and shouting, hoping rescue squads would find their missing family members and relatives in the collapsed buildings. Our volunteers had to cope with that every day during the mission,” Fotis said.

“What was amazing, though, was the warm welcome and embracement our team experienced from the Turkish people and the country's local and central Turkish authorities. The people's response was truly heartwarming. We are proud of the part we played in helping support the rescue effort and would do so again if called upon. Solidarity is a concept beyond flags, nations and borders,” he added.

Below are a few photos of the Hellenic Rescue Team in Turkey in action. All photos in this article were provided by the Hellenic Rescue Team.