The Indonesian Embassy in Turkey’s capital of Ankara has reported that at least 2 of 500 Indonesian citizens were killed while dozens others were injured in the aftermath of the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that rocked Turkey and Syria.
Three teams from the embassy were deployed in freezing winter conditions as they arrived to help evacuate their fellow citizens from the four hardest-hit regions of Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Hatay and Kahramanmaras.
Ambassador Lalu Muhammad Iqbal said in a press statement that the bodies of Balinese native Nia Marlinda, her 1-year-old child, who was a dual Indonesian-Turkish national, and her Turkish husband had been found buried under the rubble in Kahramanmaras. “The deceased and her family will be interred in Kahramanmaras today [Wednesday],” he said.
The embassy also announced that 123 people, including two Malaysians and a Myanmar national, had been evacuated to safety. Scenes of utter destruction filled the footage taken by Indonesian officials based in Turkey as they made their way past collapsed buildings and public infrastructure.
News agencies reported the death toll of the devastating earthquake in southern Turkey and Syria jumped exceeded 11,000 on February 8, 2023, as rescuers worked against time in harsh winter conditions to dig survivors out of the rubble of collapsed buildings. A UN official said thousands of children may have died.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared a 3-month state of emergency in 10 provinces. But residents in several damaged Turkish cities voiced anger and despair at what they said was a slow and inadequate response from the authorities to the deadliest earthquake to hit Turkey since 1999.
Fate of Indonesian citizens
“Around 500 Indonesians were at the location of the earthquake. Ten were injured. Four of them have been treated at the nearest hospital, 1 in Kahramanmaras and 3 in Hatay,” Iqbal said in a statement on February 7, 2023.
Six Indonesian citizens, who were working as spa therapists in Hatay, suffered broken bones and were unable to receive treatment at the local hospital. They were later evacuated to Ankara for medical care. Iqbal also said the whereabouts of five Indonesians were still unknown in Antakya and Diyarbakir.
The majority of the Indonesian citizens affected by the earthquake were students, spa therapists, individuals married to local residents and employees of international organizations located near the Turkey-Syria border.
Through its Instagram account, the Indonesian Embassy in Ankara called on affected Indonesians to fill in the data for logistical assistance.
Indonesia’s humanitarian aid for Turkey
In response to Turkey’s call for assistance, governments globally dispatched rescue teams and extended offers of aid. In a surprising move, Syria, a nation with a long-standing conflict with Israel, asked for assistance from Israel. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the provision of aid to both Syria and Turkey.
On February 7, 2023, Ambassador Iqbal and his entourage traveled to Gaziantep province, about 6 hours from Ankara, to deliver the first batch of humanitarian aid from the Indonesian government. The aid, in the form of a container of food, was handed over to the Turkey Red Crescent (Kizilay).
The Indonesian Embassy is also taking steps to provide temporary shelter and is working with local authorities to ensure the well-being of hundreds of Indonesians at the earthquake site. The embassy also urged Indonesians in earthquake-stricken areas to comply with the guidance of local authorities and to stay informed about the earthquake situation through AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency).
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo told a press conference in Jakarta on February 7, 2023, that the government would provide aid to those affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
“This assistance is being prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense and also by the Ministry of Social Affairs. It has just been prepared and will be sent as soon as possible. This morning we are still looking for a plane,” he said.
The National Alms Agency (Baznas) also sent a team of two doctors and staff from its scholarship recipients to provide assistance to survivors in Turkey and Syria. They distributed a total of IDR 10 billion (US$ 661,376) in emergency supplies, including food, blankets, medicine, shelters and other necessities for the displaced.
How earthquake affects Indonesia-Turkey bilateral trade
The United Nations trade database (UN Comtrade) said the value of goods traded between Indonesia and Turkey would reach US$ 2 billion in 2021.
This figure represented a YoY increase of 51.85%. In 2021, Indonesia achieved a trade surplus of US$ 1.2 billion with Turkey, the highest since 1989. The exports of Indonesian goods to Turkey increased by 53.35% (YoY) to reach US$ 1.6 billion, while imports from Turkey grew by 46.12% (YoY) to US$ 400.63 million, Katadata Media Network reported.
The devastating earthquake in Turkey will possibly affect Indonesia-Turkey bilateral trade, depending on the severity of the damage and the disruptions it causes to the infrastructure and the economy of Turkey. However, it is difficult to predict the exact impact it will have on the trade between the two countries.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest number of fatalities.