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Nations rush to aid Turkiye, Syria as second earthquake brings death toll to over 2,300

February 6, 2023 at 4:37 pm

Search and rescue operations continue at collapsed building after 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hits Osmaniye, Turkiye on February 06, 2023 [Ozan Efeoğlu/Anadolu Agency]

A second earthquake struck Turkiye only hours after the first 7.8 magnitude quake hit the south-east of the country and the surrounding region, bringing the death toll in Turkiye and Syria to over 2,300.

While the first quake struck during the early hours of this morning in the south-eastern city of Gaziantep, it was felt by neighbouring Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and reportedly as far as Greenland. The second quake hit around noon, with many more deaths predicted to result from it.

Over 1,500 of the reported deaths were in Turkiye, and around 800 were in Syria, where the rebel-controlled north of the country was particularly impacted by the tremors. In response, at least 45 countries worldwide have released statements of condolences and have offered their assistance and aid to Turkiye, including political adversaries such as Greece and Iran.

It came after the Turkish government declared a level 4 alert, calling for assistance from any country and organisation in the international community able to help.

According to the European Union (EU), 10 search and rescue teams have been mobilised to assist both Turkiye and Syria, with the European Commission saying in a statement that “Urban Search and Rescue teams have been quickly mobilised from Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, France, Greece, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania to support the first responders on the ground”.

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The United Kingdom has also announced that it will send search and rescue teams and a specialised medical team to Turkiye to assist with the urgent response, with Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, stating that “We stand ready to provide further support as needed”.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, conveyed condolences to his Turkish and Syrian counterparts and offered assistance from Moscow, which Damascus – supported by Russia throughout the ongoing Syrian civil war – readily accepted. Teams of Russian responders have been deployed to parts of regime-controlled Syria affected by the tremors.

The White Helmets – the rescue group responsible for life-saving missions and medical attention throughout the civil war – deployed its teams to help the affected and search the rubble of collapsed buildings for victims stuck underneath. North-west Syria was declared a “disaster zone” by the group, adding to the many existing humanitarian crises afflicting those areas of the country where millions of Syrians remain displaced.

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, today called the earthquakes the “biggest disaster” in the last century since the Erzincan earthquake in 1939, 84 years ago.

READ: ‘I thought it was over, I thought about my family’s safety’, says Turkish earthquake survivor