Rutte tells Erdogan the Dutch can offer more help; Dutch donate millions in relief aid
The Netherlands is ready to further assist Turkey in the aftermath from the earthquakes in the region that struck this week, Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Just like yesterday, Rutte expressed his condolences for all the victims in Turkey and Syria. Thus far, the number of fatalities caused by the earthquakes has risen above 6,000. In Turkey, 4,544 were killed, and nearly 27,000 were injured. The number of victims is expected to rise further.
"The impact is almost incomprehensible," Rutte said on Twitter. "Right now, all we can do is hope that we will soon have clarity about the fate of all the missing people in the area, including several Dutch nationals," he said.
Southeast Turkey was hit by a magnitude 7.8 quake early Monday morning. The epicenter was 26 kilometers northwest of the city of Gaziantep, not far from the border with Syria. A second earthquake nearly as strong occurred later Monday morning, and hundreds of aftershocks have been felt.
Now eight Dutch missing
At least eight Dutch people are known to be missing in the affected area, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed late Tuesday afternoon. That figure rose from the earlier total of six.
There is still no confirmation from the Turkish authorities of Dutch deaths or injuries. There are still fears that many people are still under the rubble.
"The scale of the disaster is hard to comprehend," Rutte stated.
National fundraising campaign launched as Red Cross raises €2 million
Meanwhile, a joint effort by several Dutch aid organizations launched the Giro555 campaign on Tuesday to collect money for the the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria. "Emergency aid is urgently needed, both in the short and longer term. The cooperating aid organizations are joining forces and calling on the whole of the Netherlands to take action together for the victims of this humanitarian disaster," said Giro555.
The Dutch branch of the Red Cross opened an account number on Monday to collect donations for the affected areas. By about 2 p.m., more than 2 million euros had been donated in just over 24 hours a spokesperson for the Red Cross said.
Giro555 is organizing a national day of action on behalf of the victims is being arranged for February 15, but the content of the days events has not been announced. Another Giro555 is also still running to collect money to provide relief for the victims of the war in Ukraine. People can still donate to that campaign, too.
Rotterdam and Amsterdam donating 1 euro per resident
Amsterdam and Rotterdam will both donate 1 euro per inhabitant to the Red Cross for the victims of the earthquake and in Turkey and Syria. "The earthquake in Turkey and Syria is an unprecedented disaster. We sympathize with those affected and all Turkish, Kurdish and Syrian Dutch people who are currently living in fear and uncertainty," the cities tweeted on Tuesday.
Amsterdam announced that it will donate 905,000 euros as a city. Rotterdam, with more than 664,000 inhabitants, rounded off the donation to 650,000 euros, said a municipal spokesperson. In total, the donations total more than 1.5 million euros.
According to the Rotterdam spokesperson, both cities quickly realized that something had to be done to assist the victims of the natural disaster. "There was a brief consultation between the [mayors and aldermen] and it was agreed that this decision would be jointly announced. If other cities had not participated, we as Rotterdam would have made this donation on our own initiative. We have made similar donations more frequently in the past."
Reporting by ANP