The EU has responded with aid after a powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale – one of the strongest earthquakes in the region in more than 100 years – struck the region of Gaziantep in Türkiye, which impacted neighbouring Syria as well, overnight.
Information is still emerging about the impact of a second quake that hit the country’s Kahramanmaras province just hours after the first struck near the city of Gaziantep, around 80 miles south.
In an immediate response, the European Union said on Monday that is has mobilised search and rescue teams for Türkiye following its request to activate the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
Ten Urban Search and Rescue teams have been quickly mobilised from Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania to support the first responders on the ground. Italy and Hungary have offered their rescue teams to Türkiye as well.
The EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre is in direct contact with the authorities in Türkiye to coordinate further support if needed.
A Commission spokesman said, “The EU’s Copernicus satellite system has also been activated to provide emergency mapping services.
“The EU is also ready to support those affected in Syria, which has also reported casualties, through its humanitarian assistance programmes.
“Our thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones and the brave first responders working to save lives,” said the spokesman.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, conveyed his sympathies and urged national unity.
“We hope that we will get through this disaster together as soon as possible and with the least damage,” he said.
The leaders of countries around the world have pledged to send support to help rescue efforts in Turkey and Syria.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement: “My thoughts are with the people of Türkiye and Syria this morning, particularly with those first responders working so valiantly to save those trapped by the earthquake. The UK stands ready to help in whatever way we can.”
French President Emmanuel Macron described the images coming from both countries as “terrible” and said France “stands ready to provide emergency aid”, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country mourned with the relatives of those killed and “will of course send help”.
Meanwhile, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the citizens of Turkey and said he had instructed “all authorities to prepare immediately to provide medical, rescue and rescue assistance”.
The Indian government said that 100 disaster response personnel as well as specially-trained dog squads were ready to be flown to the areas affected, and that medical teams and supplies were also being prepared.
Elsewhere, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he was in touch with Turkey’s President Erdogan and was “mobilising support”.