22.02.2007 - Article
Teams of volunteers again in action after house collapses in Istanbul
SDC’s Neighbourhood Disaster Support Project in Turkey
Shortly after midnight on 21 February, structural defects caused a house in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu area to collapse. Neighbourhood volunteer teams as well as dog search units of the civil defence, both established by SDC, were deployed.
Fifty volunteers worked until the early hours of the morning at the site of the accident to recover the bodies of victims and to rescue the wounded. Shortly after midnight, the five-storey building collapsed like a house of cards. Twenty-seven people were injured, two people died. The owner of the restaurant on the ground floor had become aware of a strange noise shortly after midnight. Most of the residents were able to evacuate the building minutes before the collapse occurred.
Already 15 minutes later the fire brigade and neighbourhood volunteers from the Cırpıcı quarter were the first to arrive on the scene. During the night more teams of volunteers from different neighbouring quarters arrived to provide assistance. They assisted the fire brigade and civil defence in recovering bodies, rescuing the wounded, removing rubble, directing traffic, keeping onlookers at bay and installing a generator-driven lighting system. Trained dog search teams belonging to the civil defence of Istanbul, which are part of the SDC programme, were also deployed.
Their mettle has been proved
When buildings collapse because of earthquakes or for other reasons, experience has shown that most survivors are rescued by neighbours and family members. For this reason, SDC has established volunteer teams in various areas around Turkey, a country which frequently experiences earthquakes. These teams have been trained to provide immediate medical care and technical support after large-scale disasters or accidents. For this purpose they received the necessary equipment which is stored at a safe location. Since the creation of the volunteer teams in 2001, they have been called into action on several occasions: after a gas explosion (2002), after forest fires (2003), after a train wreck (2004) as well as after a house collapsed (2006). A similar programme is being established in Iran which also experiences frequent earthquakes.