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Red Cross Aids Quake Victims

The American Red Cross is in Turkey helping out after Monday's devastating earthquake. Thousands were killed in the disaster, and the death toll isn't fully counted yet as rescue workers continue to sift through concrete rubble for more victims and fight to keep those injured alive.

CBS News Health Contributor Dr. Bernadine Healy, the president-elect of the American Red Cross, says the overwhelming damage of the earthquake required the help of aid organizations outside Turkey.

"The American Red Cross movement is a worldwide humanitarian effort and Turkey has a superb Red Cross equivalent called the Red Crescent," Healy says. "They are very skilled in handling disasters, particularly earthquakes. But no country, no organization, can handle a disaster of this magnitude."

At the request of the Turkish Red Crescent, The American Red Cross sent a team who arrived in Turkey in less than 24 hours of the earthquake. The team brought technical help and financial aid.

While many people were killed or badly wounded in the earthquake, many others were lucky to go unharmed. However, the devastation has struck them, too, Dr. Healy says.

"You have to realize that suddenly you're seeing people who may have escaped physical injury but they don't have shelter [or] clothes," Dr. Healy says. "One of the things the Red Cross sent in was thousands of comfort kits which deal with personal hygiene. Second thing, you need safe food and water. The Red Cross sent in high-protein biscuits to help feed people who have been displaced from homes."

Another problem people face is separation from their relatives, Dr. Healy says. To help those trying to find their loved ones, the Red Cross sent in technical experts in computer linking who can quicken the search by registering earthquake victims.

With over 20,000 people injured, Healy says Turkey may need ongoing support for the wounded even after victim recovery efforts are completed. There is also emotional healing, she says.

"There is another factor that we don't consider, and there is a psychological aftershock on the population as a whole after an event like this, much like shell shock. Some people have flashbacks that go on for many years. Mental health counseling will be important in the long run."

For more information on how you can help the earthquake victims, visit the Web site of the American Red Cross.

For the latest coverage on earthquake recovery efforts in Turkey, click here.]

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