UK charities have teamed up with corporate giants to send more than £350,000 worth of emergency supplies to Turkey following the devastating earthquake.
The emergency aircraft departed from London Heathrow for Adana on Tuesday, carrying clothes, blankets and almost a tonne of infant milk powder.
Watford-based humanitarian aid charity Goods for Good worked with partners Magen David Adom UK and the Humanitarian Resources International Foundation to secure an aircraft from Virgin Atlantic.
The death toll from the magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 quakes that struck nine hours apart on February 6 in south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria has passed 35,000.
Although charities are beginning to receive the green light to get goods out to Turkey, surgeons say they need supplies such as orthopaedic screws and nails, anaesthetics and analgesics.
The DEC said there is also a shortage of skilled medical professionals trained in plastic and reconstructive surgery, neurosurgery and hand surgery, and kidney injuries have created a spike in need for dialysis machines and kidney specialists.
ICU equipment is also required, such as ventilators, the DEC added.
Rosalind Bluestone, chief executive of Goods for Good, told the PA news agency she was “overwhelmed” with the response of UK companies – saying they had been “inundated” with offers of help from businesses such as Hobbycraft, Next and Uniqlo.
She told PA: “Obviously, the devastation in Turkey and Syria has hit everybody really hard, and the suffering and turmoil and devastation in that region is absolutely heartbreaking.
“We sprang into action quickly and, actually, what was amazing was the companies that we’ve been dealing with for many years approached us and said, ‘What can we do to help?’
“As a growing charity and a smallish charity, that was really very heartwarming.”
He said: “The UK public has made a heartfelt and generous response to those affected by the Turkey-Syria earthquake but it is vital those donations turn into aid as quickly as possible to help those in need.
“The response by all the charities involved to turn around such a huge aid operation so quickly has been an incredible effort and we’d like to thank all those involved for making this happen.”
Ms Bluestone said 64 pallets of clothing and other essential supplies, including more than 30,000 coats and blankets and 990kg of infant milk powder, have been airlifted to Adana, a city approximately 115 miles from the epicentre of the earthquake, in Gaziantep province.
She said more help was also still needed for her charity, saying it “depends on the goodwill and collaboration of corporates and the community to provide our emergency response in these human catastrophes”.
Ms Bluestone said the charity wanted to secure a second aircraft to send more supplies.
She said: “We need more goods. We need more companies to offer their help.
“We need a carrier. I think to get a flight out with 60 pallets loaded in a hold is far more effective than sending a truck on the road to join the queue.”
“These are basic requirements that any family need – these people have lost absolutely everything, their loved ones, their homes.
“When you think of what’s needed by a mum with a child, like nappies, what are they going to do?
“That was one of the reasons why I set up this charity when the Syrian crisis started in 2014 – and as a mother, grandmother and a human being I certainly couldn’t close my eyes to that.”
Ms Bluestone said she hoped Goods for Good could get supplies out to Syria in the not too distant future.
She told PA: “Syria is a place at the moment where aid is beginning to get through and I do hope there will be an opportunity to send basic things there as well.
“We want to do that and we have to make sure that whatever we send gets to where it needs to be and in the right way.”