Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

India had launched ‘Operation Dost’ to extend humanitarian assistance to Turkey after various parts of the country were hit by a devastating earthquake on February 6 that killed over 41,000 people. An Odia Jawan, Vivekananda Dehuri was part of the NDRF team that tirelessly undertook rescue operations to save lives from the rubble. 

After accomplishing the two-week-long rescue operation, the Indian team has returned. Odia paratrooper Vivekananda shared his heart-wrenching experience during the rescue operation in the earthquake-ravaged country.

After reaching Turkey, Vivekananda and his team set up a temporary hospital and started the treatment of the injured people in a record six hours of time.

“We received the order from Army headquarters on February 7 to move to Turkey immediately for the rescue operation. We flew to the earthquake-devastated country with the required medicines and 30 beds of equipment within eight hours. It was heart-wrenching to see the kind of disaster there. We took shelter in a partially-collapsed school and started the rescue operation immediately,” recalled Vivekananda.

“Our priority was to keep ourselves safe and provide treatment to the injured. It was scary as we felt tremors six to seven times during our stay in Turkey. However, we set up our temporary tent near the school and started providing treatment. Initially, 40-50 people came for treatment. However, more people started coming gradually and soon the numbers reached 800-900 per day. It was a great satisfaction to provide them health service,” he said.

He said there was communication barrier during the rescue operation. However, with the help of interpreters and help from local authorities and people, the rescue operation was carried out successfully.

“Turkey people were so much moved by the service of our people that they developed unflinching faith in the Indian rescue teams. They were saying, ‘we need ‘Hindustani' medicines and ‘Hindustani’ doctors’. The patients had so much faith in the Indian team that they were coming to the hospital crying, but leaving with smile,” said Vivekananda.