Air Charter Service delivers aid to Turkish and Syrian earthquake victims
Air Charter Service (ACS) has delivered search and rescue teams and humanitarian aid to the victims of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
Its first flight arrived on the morning of Tuesday (February 6th), the day after the disaster.
Both countries were struck by two earthquakes with magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5 respectively on Sunday night and ealry Monday morning. More than 40,000 lives are thought to have been lost due to the disaster, with search and rescue teams still working to save those stuck under rubble.
Ben Dinsdale, director, Government and Humanitarian Services, ACS said he received calls from governments and non-government organisations (NGOs) shortly after the second earthquake.
“Following some research, we ascertained that Gaziantep Airport – closest to the epicentre – was fortunately still fully functional,” he said.
This posed a problem, however. “This was ideal for search and rescue teams, but that meant that it would become exceptionally busy very quickly. At the time, it had limited loading equipment, so was not the best choice for our first few cargo charters,” said Dinsdale.
The solution was to use nearby Adana airport in Turkey and Damascus airport in Syria. Both were operational and offered handling equipment to unload the humanitarian aid.
ACS’ first flight, a chartered Airbus A330-200 from Germany, carried a search and rescue team to Gaziantep Airport. Dinsdale said that having someone on the ground in Gaziantep so soon after the earthquake was vital in coordinating more passenger charters carrying search and rescue teams.
Also landing on [date] was the first rescue team from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. The team, rescue dogs, and humanitarian aid were delivered aboard another Airbus A330-200.
“So far we have had several aircraft land in Gaziantep with search and rescue teams from around Europe,” said Dinsdale. “Towards the end of last week, we started flying in cargo charters, the first of which arrived in Adana, from Spain on Thursday on a Boeing B747-400 carrying an entire field hospital.”
During the emergency, ACS has operated numerous humanitarian missions on aircraft including IL-76, B737, B747, B757 and B777 into Adana and Damascus, as well as one each to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey and Aleppo, Syria.
“With many of the cargo flights now going into Adana, we have now also flown someone in to oversee everything there,” said Dinsdale.
Pictured below: Mans best friend’s ready to take to the sky.