Everyone is aware of the terrible earthquake that hit Nepal just

before noon on Saturday. Since then there have been hundreds of aftershocks

adding to the death toll and destruction. This is clearly a human tragedy

on a scale it is virtually impossible to imagine and while most of us are limited

to donating money, which is needed in the billions, thankfully there are others

who are able to give practical help.

AKUT, Turkey’s search and rescue volunteers

A courageous team of men and women volunteers from AKUT, Turkey’s Search and

Rescue Association, are now in Nepal, where they have joined other teams

and organisations from across the world to help the people of Nepal.

AKUT

Over the coming days and weeks they will be risking their own lives to save others

but they will also be discovering those who were not so fortunate.

AKUT on their way to Nepal
AKUT at the airport on their way to Nepal

Fethiye’s branch of AKUT

AKUT Fethiye
AKUT Fethiye

Fethiye also has a branch of AKUT volunteers, who are always ready

24 hours a day. Although none of the Fethiye team have gone to Nepal,

every year they take risks to rescue adventurers who have become

lost or injured on Fethiye’s remote mountains and trails, but they will

also put their lives on the line to provide vital front line support in

the event of a forest fire or an earthquake.

AKUT are there 24/7 as front line support
AKUT are there 24/7 as front line support

To the people of Fethiye it is of no surprise that their centre is named

after Kamil Nezih Okuş, a man who himself played a life saving role

when Fethiye experienced a disaster of its own nearly sixty years ago.

Fethiye’s own tragedy

Fethiye was a small, sleepy coastal town in 1957 with a population of no

more the 3,000. Their quiet world abruptly changed on the night of

24th April and the morning of 25th April. Following a series of earth tremors, residents were told

to leave their homes and not return.

Foresight of one man

This was mainly due to the foresight of Fethiye’s governor, Kamil Nezih Okuş.

As a consequence, when a 6.2 quake struck at 21:17 and the following morning,

at 04:28, a 7.1 tremor hit the town there was far less loss of life than there

would have otherwise been. Although the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks

destroyed many buildings, very few people were killed.

Kamil Nezih Okuş
Kamil Nezih Okuş

58 years to the day

Fethiye Times had already scheduled a commemoration of the mercy mission

by the British Royal Navy and the catastrophe in Nepal makes the story even

more poignant. Three days after the earthquake, on April 28th 1957,

a D-Class destroyer, HMS Dainty, arrived from Cyprus where the ship was based.

When the British Navy came to Fethiye's aid
HMS Dainty

It anchored in the Fethiye gulf, bringing tents, blankets, water purification

tablets and medical supplies ashore for the townspeople.

A unique record

Some of the senior officers accompanied the equipment and supplies to

the town and amongst them was an official photographer who recorded

his observations.

One of the crew was a young man called David Parker who was doing

his military service. While he was not allowed on shore himself, he was

able to observe the town from a distance and clearly remembered the event.

Paspatur district, fethiye
Paspatur district, Fethiye

He was given copies of the photographs, which he filed away until 2011

when his neighbours, Mike and Lynn Pitchers, told him that they had

bought a house near Fethiye.

He still had the photos

Parker retrieved the photos he had kept for 54 years and gave them to his

neighbours, requesting that they be used in Fethiye as a way of remembering

those difficult days, the bravery of the residents and the help brought to the

beleaguered population by the British Navy.

The impact of the quake on the town had inevitable consequences but today

Fethiye is now a thriving town. But this story also comes as a timely reminder

how people can support each other at times like this.

Fethiye today
Fethiye today
A view of Fethiye taken from HMS Dainty
A view of Fethiye taken from HMS Dainty

The municipality have used the collection of photographs from time to time,

as part of an educational programme, to reinforce the importance of being

prepared, should there ever be another earthquake.

An important reminder

A few years ago Fethiye Municipality translated their useful booklet

into English. It clearly explains how best to prepare for and survive

a quake.

Support AKUT

To make a donation to AKUT, visit the link here.

 

 

 

 

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. […] AKUT (Turkey’s Search and Rescue Association) is usually in the news for rescues humans but on this occasion one of their teams brought a badly injured male Caretta caretta to the Centre for Sea Turtle Rescue, Research and Rehabilitation (DEKAMER), part of Denizli’s Pamukkale University in Iztuzu, Dalyan. The loggerhead sea turtle, which was missing its lower jaw, was named AKUT-3 as it is the third such sea turtle that they rescued. […]

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