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How companies are trying to help victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria

<i>IHA via AP</i><br/>The city of Hatay
IHA via AP
The city of Hatay

By Olesya Dmitracova, CNN

Companies around the world are racing to provide help to the victims of the devastating earthquake straddling Turkey and Syria, by donating food, medicines, services and cash.

Amazon has prepared donations of relief items, including food, baby food, blankets, tents and medicines, with the first shipments departing from its warehouse in Istanbul Wednesday, the US retail giant said Monday. The supplies are heading to the affected regions of Turkey.

“This immediate delivery is just the beginning of Amazon’s response,” Abe Diaz, head of Amazon’s disaster relief program, said in a statement. Diaz noted that the company would work to identify the needs on the ground and use its logistics and delivery network to meet them.

Deutsche Telekom followed with an announcement Tuesday that it had made all calls and text messages from Germany to Turkey and Syria free of charge until February 15. Germany is home to the world’s largest Turkish diaspora. The country also hosts the third largest refugee population in the world, half of whom are from Syria, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

In addition, Deutsche Telekom is donating €1 million ($1.1 million) to a German alliance of 23 aid groups.

Apple and Google have promised to chip in.

Sunder Pichai, CEO of Google and parent company Alphabet tweeted Monday: “We’ve activated SOS alerts to provide relevant emergency information to those impacted, and and Googlers will be supporting relief and recovery efforts.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted: “Apple will be donating to relief and recovery efforts.”

Chobani’s Turkish-born CEO is also giving money. Hamdi Ulukaya has donated $1 million to an earthquake relief fund set up by Turkish Philanthropy Funds, the US-based donor organization has said.

Ulukaya tweeted Tuesday: “[O]ur brothers & sisters in #Turkey and region desperately need our help. please donate to @tphilanthropy earthquake relief and recovery efforts. I have pledged $1m and will match up to $1m in additional donations to aid those affected by this disaster.”

More cash has been donated by two of the biggest store chains in the United Kingdom.

Tesco and Marks & Spencer contributed a combined £150,000 ($181,500) to the Earthquake Appeal by the Sun newspaper, it reported Wednesday. The newspaper said it was donating all funds from the appeal to the British Red Cross. The aid organization is working to help people in Turkey and Syria affected by the quake.

Another company that might help is Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

On Monday, Musk responded to a tweet about SpaceX’s Starlink internet service, which said: “Hey @elonmusk a massive earthquake hit Turkey and neighboring countries. Severe communication shortages are happening. Any chance you can help with your starlink satellites?” The billionaire replied: “Starlink is not approved by Turkish government yet. SpaceX can send as soon as approved.”

In war-torn Ukraine, Starlink has been a vital source of communication for the country’s military. Musk has continued funding the service even though, according to a tweet from him in October, it is “losing money.”

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake, which struck Monday, has killed more than 11,000 people across Turkey and Syria so far, according to officials.

A frantic rescue effort is underway to free civilians trapped under collapsed buildings amid freezing weather conditions. Aid agencies are particularly worried about victims in northwestern Syria, where more than 4 million people were already relying on humanitarian assistance.

— Anna Cooban, Jessie Gretener and Sugam Pokharel contributed reporting.

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