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Countries pledge aid after Turkey, Syria earthquake kills thousands


Governments around the world have offered aid and rescue workers to assist recovery efforts in Turkey and Syria following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 7,000 people in the two countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday announced a state of emergency in the hardest-hit regions, adding that more than 53,000 search and rescue workers were working in the earthquake zone and 5,000 health workers had been dispatched to southern Turkey. Dozens of countries have also offered to help in rescue operations, he added.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs dispatched its disaster assessment and coordination teams to Turkey. As of Tuesday afternoon, nearly 1,400 personnel and 45 search dogs had arrived, with another 27 teams expected to arrive later Tuesday and Wednesday.

The European Union is also sending 27 rescue and medical teams from 19 member states to assist Turkey, making up over 1,150 rescuers and 70 rescue dogs, European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič said.

Rescue workers searched through rubble of a collapsed building in Turkey’s Adana on Feb. 6, after two powerful earthquakes, as seen in drone footage. (Video: Reuters)

The Los Angeles County Fire Department sent a 78-member rescue team made up of rescue specialists, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, canine search teams and structural engineers.

President Biden on Monday said administration officials had “reached out immediately to their Turkish counterparts to coordinate any and all needed assistance,” and that “U.S.-supported humanitarian partners are also responding to the destruction in Syria.”

South Korean officials dispatched a 60-person rescue team and medical supplies to Turkey via military aircraft on Tuesday, according to a statement issued by President Yoon Suk Yeol’s office.

Yoon called Turkey a “brother nation” that sent troops to support South Korea during the 1950-1953 Korean War. He also sent condolences to Erdogan and promised “every possible support,” his office said.

Rescue workers from India’s National Disaster Response Force departed Tuesday morning, it said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Monday offered Turkey “all possible assistance to cope with this tragedy.”

How to help people affected by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria

Germany’s International Search and Rescue left Cologne on Monday for Turkey’s Gaziantep region, where the earthquake’s epicenter was. The group, which specializes in the search and rescue of people buried under rubble, said it will work with Turkish rescue teams and specialist canines to find survivors in the rubble.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also called on Russia to help pressure Syria into allowing humanitarian aid in amid the country’s civil war. Both government- and rebel-held areas in Syria have reported hundreds deaths and injuries from the quake.

“It is also important that the weapons are now silent and that all efforts in the region can be focused on humanitarian aid and on the rescue and protection of the earthquake victims,” she said Tuesday. “For this it is essential that the border crossings are all opened now.”

Israel has sent over 30 tons of humanitarian equipment and 167 officers to carry out rescue missions to Turkey, a spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington said in an emailed statement. It is also “exploring the possibility” of setting up a field hospital.

Diplomatic tensions with the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the civil war have made it difficult for countries to send international aid. Many Western countries have frosty relations — or, in the case of the United States, no formal diplomatic relations — with Assad.

The earthquake piled further hardship onto rebel-held northwest Syria that is still suffering from years of humanitarian crisis, political conflict and widespread displacement.

Assad’s violent crackdown on the 2011 protests had turned the country into a regional and international pariah for the last decade.

However, in wake of the devastating earthquake, many neighboring countries are now vowing to help.

The United Arab Emirates on Monday pledged to set up a field hospital and send search and rescue teams, as well as provide humanitarian aid. Egypt’s president vowed to send aid as well, as did Oman’s sultan and Tunisia’s president.

Algeria dispatched 115 tonnes (127 tons) of emergency aid to Aleppo, and Lebanon announced it would waive taxes and fees for planes and ships bringing aid to Syria, and send a delegation made up of civil defense, engineers, Red Cross volunteers and firefighters.

Iraq pledged to send two planes of emergency relief aid to Syria, as well as civil defense teams and 150 paramedics to Turkey, as a government spokesman expressed Iraq’s support for “our brothers, the Syrian people.”

Russia also announced it would send direct aid to Syria and that it was dispatching emergency response workers, the Kremlin said in a readout of the Monday call between President Vladimir Putin and Assad. Russia was Assad’s biggest ally during the civil war.

Putin also offered his deep condolences to Erdogan and confirmed Russia’s “readiness to immediately provide Turkish partners with necessary assistance in dealing with the aftermath of this natural disaster,” the Kremlin said.

Jennifer Hassan, Natalia Abbakumova, Meaghan Tobin, Leo Sands, Gerry Shih, Sarah Dadouch and Ellen Francis contributed to this report.

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.