ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday postponed his visit to Ankara after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency in 10 southeastern provinces that were hit by a major earthquake that has so far claimed over 11,000 lives in Syria and Turkiye.
The prime minister called for “tangible and timely material support” for Turkiye a day before while pointing out that Ankara had generously helped Pakistan in the wake of the 2005 earthquake and floods in recent years. He instructed to set up a relief fund for quake victims and urged well-off individuals to contribute.
Sharif also decided to travel to Turkiye to express solidarity with its people and government while announcing to reschedule a national conference to discuss the security situation in his own country.
“PM visit is postponed due to [the] ongoing relief activities in Turkiye,” federal information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a brief message to the media on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, rescue activities continue in Syria and Turkiye after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake jolted the two countries earlier this week. According to World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, time is running out for the thousands injured and those still feared trapped.
Reports emerging from the two countries say thousands have taken refuge from rains, snow, and aftershocks in mosques, schools, and bus shelters after losing their apartments and houses.
Some estimates suggest that nearly 23 million people have been affected by the quake which will require significant relief and reconstruction activities in the coming days.
Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has already sent two planeloads of relief goods to Turkiye and Syria.
The goods were sent to the Syrian capital of Damascus by a specially chartered plane from Islamabad airport.
The NDMA said more relief materials would also be sent “for Syrian brothers and sisters affected by the earthquake.”
The Pakistan Air Force also said in a statement on Wednesday it had dispatched tents, blankets, and other essential items on two C-130s to Turkiye to help people.