Offers of assistance pour in after Turkey and Syria earthquake kills more than 1,000
Follow the latest on the earthquake in Turkey
As the death toll from Monday’s earthquake in Turkey climbs, hope is blossoming of rescue co-operation as nations offer specialist assistance and funds to those affected in Turkey and Syria.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that 45 countries had offered help with search and rescue efforts after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and many more leaders have expressed sorrow at the tragedy.
There is hope that Turkey’s neighbours may be able to get help to affected areas the quickest, although traffic remains an issue as thousands flee aftershocks.
Gulf leaders expressed solidarity with the nations affected.
UAE President Sheikh Mohamed spoke to both the Syrian and Turkish presidents, state news agency Wam reported, and Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry expressed “solidarity, sympathy and condolences”. The UAE said it would be establishing a field hospital to help with the disaster response, in addition to sending rescue teams.
In Washington, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was already mobilising aid to send to Turkey.
Greece said it will respond “immediately” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote in a tweet, despite fraught relations between the two countries. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry, in a statement early on Monday, offered help to both Turkey and Syria following the earthquake.
Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said his country is prepared to provide relief assistance.
“We are in the process of following up on this issue with the possibility of sending a rescue force from the army and Civil Defence to assist in the relief process,” Mr Mikati said, speaking during an emergency meeting of the National Committee for Disaster Management.
The Lebanese army shared a photo of troops readying for deployment to Twitter.
No casualties or injuries were reported in Lebanon, according to Interior Minister Bassam Malawi, although he advised residents to leave old or dilapidated buildings.
Jordan’s King Abdullah expressed condolences in separate messages to both Turkey and Syria. He said he has issued directives to provide aid to the families impacted by the tragedy.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said all authorities have been instructed to make immediate preparations to provide medical, and search and rescue assistance.
He said he had ordered Israeli aid sent to Turkey, the epicentre of Monday’s earthquake, with the airlifts due to depart toward evening.
“Since a request was also received to do this for many victims of the earthquake in Syria, I instructed to do this as well,” he said at a ceremony in a hospital near Tel Aviv.
But a Syrian official told reporters Damascus “ridiculed and denied the allegations” that it had requested aid from Israel.
“How can Syria ask for help from an entity that has killed… Syrians for decades?” said the official.
Syria’s government does not recognise Israel and the two countries have fought several wars since Israel’s creation in 1948.
The UK said 76 UK search and rescue specialists, four search dogs and rescue equipment will arrive in Turkey on Monday evening.
The European Union is co-ordinating specialist teams from Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Netherlands, Poland and Romania on their way to Turkey.
It has also activated its emergency Copernicus satellite mapping service to help first responders on the ground, an important offering given the damage to communication lines in the disaster area.
“The EU is also ready to support those affected in Syria, which has also reported casualties, through its humanitarian assistance programmes,” a joint statement from High Representative Josep Borrell and Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said.
Separately, Germany has offered to provide camps with emergency shelters and water treatment units and said it was preparing relief supplies with emergency generators, tents and blankets, in co-ordination with the Turkish authorities.
Ukraine offered condolences. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine “will stand by the people in this difficult time” and was ready to provide assistance.
Russia said teams of 100 search and rescue personnel are on standby to be sent to Turkey with two Il-76 transport planes. President Vladimir Putin also offered condolences in telegrams to the leaders of Syria and Turkey.
India’s National Disaster Response Force has prepared 100 personnel with sniffer dog squads and equipment.
In Cairo, where the quake was also felt, Ahmed Abul-Gheit, the secretary-general of Arab League, called on the international community to also aid the Syrian people in the aftermath of the quake.
Thousands displaced by 12 years of war are dealing with the impact of the tremors in the cold of winter.