WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin’s floor speech on the deadly earthquakes in Türkiye was submitted into the official Senate record on Feb. 14.
“I rise today to honor the lives lost during the tragic earthquake that shook southern Turkey and northwestern Syria, and to reaffirm the American commitment to provide assistance to recover from this disaster. In the early morning hours of February 6, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, one of the strongest quakes in the region’s history, struck near the city of Gaziantep [gahz EE YAHN tep] causing the deaths of thousands of innocent individuals and wreaking disaster and destruction on many communities that were already struggling from the effects of war.
I am devastated by the growing loss of life and injuries in Turkey and Syria. As of today, the earthquake has left more than 20,000 dead in Turkey and Syria and over 50,000 injured. Rescue missions continue to search for scores more who remain missing. In this great time of sadness for their countries, the United States will stand in humanitarian solidarity to provide relief, recovery, and efforts to build back even stronger.
Within hours, the U.S. Agency for International Development activated a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to lead the U.S. government’s humanitarian response to the disaster. The DART is working closely with Turkish authorities on the front lines and will continue provide search and rescue support and identify priority humanitarian needs in the days to come.
Globally, the outpouring of support in resources and rescue workers has been encouraging. The White Helmets, a volunteer organization that has assisted in the rescue of the many civilians suffering from attacks by the Syrian regime, has sprung into action. The internationally-renowned group is currently working around the clock and has sent out over 300 search and rescue teams—several times their normal operating capacity.
Over twenty NATO allies and partners have provided more than 1,400 emergency response personnel including firefighters, engineers, and search-and-rescue and medical teams. I am heartened by the generosity of individuals, countries, and organizations—which include the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), a humanitarian agency based in Baltimore, Maryland. CRS is supporting emergency relief efforts by local partners in Turkey and Syria, including partner organizations Caritas Turkey, Caritas Syria, and Caritas Anatolia.
Today, we honor those lost and injured in this week’s disaster. We will continue to provide rescue and recovery support, and we send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Turkey and Syria.”