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Chinese firms race against time to assist quake rescue work in Turkey


Aug 29, 2022
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Hong Kong

An excavator of China's Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group Co (XCMG) is loaded onto a truck in Yalova in northwestern Turkey on January 7, 2023 before being delivered to Hatay, epicenter in the southernmost of the quake-hit Turkey. Photo: Courtesy of XCMG

Chinese companies are rushing to provide much-needed support, including excavators, to facilitate rescue work in Turkey after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the region, the most devastating since 1999.

A local power station that a Chinese company developed at the epicenter is also gearing up to maintain power supplies while dealing with the impact.

Turkey, a major player of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has no shortage of cooperation with Chinese companies and projects, which offers the possibility of a quick response to the rescue work by mobilizing the best equipment and resources on hand.

A branch of Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group Co (XCMG), a leading Chinese construction machinery producer, immediately initiated an emergency mechanism on Tuesday, coordinating the movement of three excavators to the quake-hit Turkish city of Gaziantep, the Global Times learned.

The company also reached out to its local dealers to bring more excavators to the region, XCMG told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The death toll from Monday's quakes in Turkey has risen to more than 7,100 and 40,910 people have been injured, according to Turkey's Disaster Management Authority on Wednesday. Untold numbers of people are still buried in the debris, and Turkey is calling for urgent rescue operations.

The company said that more than a dozen excavators of various sizes and other heavy equipment will join the rescue work.

Aid supplies have been mobilized, with the first batch valued at more than 50,000 Turkish lira ($2,655) purchased and delivered five hours after the quake on Tuesday, XCMG said. This batch includes blankets, baby products and hygiene products, and more aid is on the way.

SANY Group, another major Chinese producer of heavy machinery, told the Global Times on Wednesday that it has excavators in Turkey, which will be coordinated as part of the company's contribution to the rescue work.

"We will participate in the rescue as part of our corporate social responsibility," an employee of the company said. The earthquake has had only a limited impact on the company's global businesses.

Turkey also has one of the largest BRI projects in the region - the Hunutlu Thermal Power Plant, a landmark project, which is located near the epicenter of the earthquake in Adana.

Thanks to the reliable quality of Made-in- China equipment, the project was undamaged during the quake. It has remained operational, providing electricity at a time of need, the Global Times learned from China Energy Engineering Corp (Energy China), the designer of the power station.

The power plant continues to generate electricity, which offers a guarantee to the aid work, even as two nearby power plants were knocked offline by the quake and reduced power supply in the region, Energy China said.

The direct impact of the disaster is limited so far for Chinese companies and projects in the region.

Employees at a branch company of PowerChina in Istanbul, which is far away from the epicenter, said that work is proceeding as normal.

XCMG told the Global Times that the supply of materials in Ankara, where a branch company is located, is adequate at the moment, but logistics have been disrupted by the quake.

China has been beefing up support for the rescue work in Turkey and neighboring regions. During a regular press conference on Wednesday, the spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mao Ning said that after more than 10 hours of flying, 82 members of the Chinese rescue team arrived at the airport in the southern Turkish city of Adana in the early hours of Wednesday, with over 20 tons of aid supplies.

A Chinese engineer conduct checking after the giant earthquake on February 6, 2023 at the Hunutlu Thermal Power Plant. Photo: Courtesy of China Energy Engineering Corp

Chinese-backed projects have reported only a limited impact after the recent giant earthquake and subsequent aftershocks devastated parts of the eastern Mediterranean, affecting Turkey and Syria.

The Hunutlu Thermal Power Plant, a flagship project under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), remained operational during and after the earthquake, generating precious electricity in moments of need, the Global Times learned.

Under the BRI and Turkey's "Middle Corridor" vision, China and Turkey have carried out a series of practical cooperation projects in areas such as infrastructure, energy, transportation, digital technology and finance.

A video clip showed fire and damage at the Limak Port at Iskenderun, according to media reports. The port's operation has been suspended.

Iskenderun is not far away from the Hunutlu Thermal Power Plant, the largest China-invested coal-fired power plant in Turkey with two units of 660-megawatt power generation equipment and direct investment of $1.7 billion. The power plant became fully operational in October last year after construction started in September 2019.

China Energy Engineering Corp (Energy China), the Hunutlu Thermal Power Plant's designer, sent a statement to the Global Times on Tuesday stating that the project, thanks to the reliable quality of Made in China equipment, was undamaged during and after the giant earthquake.

The power plant continues to generate power, which offered a secured guarantee to the aid work in the quake-stricken area, even as two nearby power plants were knocked offline by the quake and tightened power supply in the region, Energy China said in the statement.

The power plant is located near the epicenter of the earthquake and the living quarters for engineers were not damaged by the quake.

Zhang Guolei, a manager at the site, was among the first of the Chinese engineers to check the power plant's safety amid heavy rain before dawn of Monday, shortly after the initial wave of the earthquake began to cease.

"Fortunately, the structure of the plant remained sound. The equipment was working, and everything was safe and stable," the statement said.

The project's team also provided shelters to relatives of Turkish employees, whose houses were damaged in the quake.

Energy China's workers' union in Beijing has reached out the project site over the delivery of charity and aid goods for local employees and residents based on the local situation.

The direct impact of the earthquake for some Chinese companies with projects or branch offices situated in the central and western part of Turkey has so far been limited, the Global Times learned on Tuesday afternoon.

One branch company of PowerChina based in Istanbul, which is situated relatively far away from the center of the earthquake, said that they did not feel the earthquake and everything was normal so far.

Several employees of another Chinese branch company based in Aksaray in central Turkey said that they felt the heavy tremors on the ground but there were no reports of casualties or houses collapsing in the place where the project is located.

China announced on Tuesday 40 million yuan ($5.8 million) of emergency assistance to Turkey and the dispatch of a rescue and medical team. It will also provide Syria with emergency aid, according to the China International Development Cooperation Agency.

Some Chinese companies also offered help. The Spacety Co, a company based in Central China's Hunan Province, immediately arranged for its Chaohu-1 satellite to conduct emergency imaging of the earthquake zone, the Global Times learned.
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