Turkish consulate says deadline for Canadian rescue teams in quake zone has passed

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Turkey’s consulate in Vancouver says a private group of volunteers from British Columbia will be the only Canadian search and rescue team in the nation’s earthquake zone, after a deadline for others to participate expired.

Canadian federal authorities have not given an official go-ahead to any rescue teams since Sunday’s quake that killed thousands, but the consulate says the Burnaby Urban Search and Rescue group was deployed Thursday morning after independently offering help.

The consulate says in a statement the Burnaby team, made up of firefighters and other first responders, “is and will be the only team from Canada” acting as rescuers in the quake zone.

International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada’s commitment of $10 million to quake relief efforts was the fastest response, rather than sending rescue teams. Sajjan says monetary aid can be quickly distributed and used in relief efforts, while sending rescuers is logistically and geographically challenging, and potentially creates bottlenecks that hamper instead of help. The minister says Canada should focus on “building capabilities” of other countries’ teams to provide immediate disaster response rather than having them rely on outside help.

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