The recent earthquake in Turkey has caused immense damage and loss of life. The international community has shown solidarity with the people of Turkey by providing financial support and other assistance. When the world seems darkest, there are always those whose compassionate actions light a path to happiness and prosperity.
These are the stories of some of those shining lights and what they do to make these hard times easier for those most affected.
Nikolay Petrov – Senior Software Developer with Acronis in Bulgaria
My involvement with Cave Rescue Bulgaria began two years ago. I received a request on 08 February that our cave rescuers should depart immediately for Turkey following the devastating earthquake. It was an urgent request; there is still hope that people are alive but trapped under the ruins.
The next day, 12 highly trained cave rescuers met at Sofia airport with a few more volunteers. We had 2.5 tons of equipment for a flight to Istanbul and waited to get on an aeroplane to Adana. On the flight to Adana, we met four German doctors travelling with 500 kilograms of self-funded medical equipment for the rescue, and we decided to join forces. Our work for the next few days would be in Antakya, in the Hatay region. Due to the sheer scale of the disaster, a heavily damaged town required immediate assistance. Upon arrival, we were taken to the town, where we were faced with the disaster’s damage – whatever building was still standing was so severely damaged that it would either fall by itself soon or should be demolished.
As cave rescuers, we are trained to work in harsh environments and tight spaces. Cave Rescue Bulgaria is a non-profit organization; we are not backed by the government or any prestigious organization. We left Turkey with our tools and equipment. When we arrived in the town, locals had done most of the removal work with heavy equipment. An excavator would remove a whole building floor, and a rescue team or volunteers would enter inside and check for survivors, which took hours per floor.
Our first “day” ended more than 48 hours later with no sleep and moving our camp with 3 tons of equipment manually four times.
The team ventured to places no one else would venture, trying to find survivors or recover bodies. We partnered with a local NGO and travelled with whatever improvised transport made available – most of the time, cargo vehicles. We worked as much as possible the next few days with hardly any sleep and night shifts.
While on the field, we were left speechless by the attitude of the locals – everyone was eager to help us do our job, bringing us food or tools, offering transport, and helping with what they could. We received invaluable assistance from the Turkish Embassy in Sofia and Turkish Airlines. Check-in desks were opened just for us, and flights were delayed so we could board. Valuable help was also provided by the National Association of Volunteers in the Republic of Bulgaria.
We are teaming up with our local partners and government agencies to provide essential supplies to support the humanitarian aid efforts. The Acronis Cyber Foundation Program and Groundbreaker have set up a donation page that allows you to contribute financially in USD or Euros.
Recurring donations are accepted and encouraged. With the help and generosity of others, this region can rebuild from this disaster. Together we can give much-needed relief and aid to those injured or lost family or housing.