• Cabinet members to donate one month’s salary to victims
• Over 50 rescue workers dispatched to Istanbul
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday announced its part of relief measures for the earthquake-hit people of Turkiye and Syria, with the government setting up a relief fund and sending a 51-member rescue team to Istanbul, and the prime minister set to leave for Istanbul on Wednesday (today).
The decision to set up the fund was taken in a federal cabinet meeting, whose members also decided to donate one month’s salary to the relief fund. Besides, senior federal government employees — from Grade 18 and above — would donate one day’s salary to the fund.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who chaired the cabinet meeting, has “established a relief fund and appealed to people of Pakistan, particularly the businessmen and philanthropists, to donate to the fund generously”, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement issued after the cabinet meeting.
As of Tuesday night, more than 7,300 people had died in Turkiye and Syria after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit on Monday, injuring thousands and leaving millions unable to return home because their apartments either no longer exist or could crumble from an aftershock.
It was realised in the cabinet meeting that Turkiye had been at the forefront of supporting the people of Pakistan after last year’s devastating floods.
Earlier, Prime Minister Sharif in a tweet urged the international community to translate their solidarity with the earthquake victims of Turkiye and Syria into tangible and timely material support.
He said: “24 hours after the devastating earthquake hit Turkiye and Syria, scenes of death and destruction were mind-numbing. It breaks the heart to witness the sheer scale of unfolding human tragedy. Solidarity should translate into tangible and timely material support for suffering humanity.”
He told the cabinet members that besides relief goods, rescue teams were also immediately dispatched to Turkiye for relief work. He assured that Pakistan would extend every possible support to the people of Turkiye and Syria.
He apprised the meeting that PIA and PAF flights as well as rescue teams, doctors and paramedics have been dispatched for Turkiye. Moreover, the supply of relief goods would continue, he added.
The 51-member rescue team was sent to Istanbul by a special PIA flight on Tuesday, and the national airline will operate another special flight to Syria.
A PIA spokesperson tweeted that the flight PK-707 departed from Lahore to Istanbul, with the rescue team and their special equipment weighing seven tonnes on board.
He said another special flight of Boeing 777 carrying relief goods would take off from Islamabad for Damascus.
Separately, the spokesperson said in a press statement that PIA operated flights to Istanbul daily, which would be available for dispatching rescue and relief assistance.
Mohammad Asghar in Rawalpindi also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2023
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