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World powers rush to offer Turkey, Syria aid over quake

February 8, 2023 01:08 AM

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Countries around the world have mobilised rapidly to send aid and rescue workers after a massive earthquake killed more than 6,200 people in Turkey and Syria.

The EU has mobilised 27 search and rescue and medical teams from 19 countries to help Turkey. They involve over 1,150 rescuers and 70 rescue dogs, EU crisis management commissioner Janez Lenarcic confirmed Tuesday. The EU said it was "funding humanitarian organisations that are carrying out search and rescue operations" in Syria as well as providing water and sanitation support and distributing blankets.  

President Joe Biden said that US teams were "deploying quickly to begin to support Turkish search and rescue efforts". National security spokesman John Kirby said the United States was sending two search-and-rescue teams of 79 people each, while the Pentagon and USAID were coordinating with their Turkish counterparts.

China said its first rescue teams started work in Turkey on Tuesday and it was sending $5.9 million in emergency aid, including rescue and medical teams, state media reported. Deng Boqing, vice director of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, told state TV that Beijing would also coordinate "urgently needed disaster relief materials" for Syria but did not say how much would be sent.

Foreign minister James Cleverly said the UK was sending a team of 76 search and rescue specialists, equipment and rescue dogs. Britain was also sending an emergency medical team to assess the situation on the ground. President Vladimir Putin promised to send Russian teams to both countries in telephone calls with Syria's Bashar al-Assad and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The defence ministry said 300 military personnel deployed in Syria were helping with the clear-up effort. "Our teams are on the ground assessing the needs and providing assistance. We count on the international community to help the thousands of families hit by this disaster, many of whom were already in dire need of humanitarian aid in areas where access is a challenge," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. 

The UN also announced a $25 million grant to help kick-start the humanitarian response. Two of India's National Disaster Response Force teams comprising 100 personnel with dog squads and equipment were ready to be flown to the affected area, the foreign ministry said. Doctors and paramedics with medicines were also being readied.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "anguished" and "deeply pained" by the deaths in Turkey -- with whom India has frosty relations -- and Syria.

Germany -- home to about three million people of Turkish origin -- will "mobilise all the assistance we can activate", Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.- Ukraine -

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his war-torn country was "ready to provide the necessary assistance to overcome the consequences of the disaster."

Kyiv said Tuesday it was sending a team of several dozen rescuers to Turkey. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, prime minister of Turkey's historic rival Greece, whose relations with Ankara have suffered from a spate of border and cultural disputes, pledged to make "every force available" to aid its neighbour.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had approved the sending of aid to Syria -- whose government does not recognise Israel -- after receiving a request through diplomatic channels. A Damascus official denied they had requested help.

The government will also send humanitarian assistance to Turkey, Netanyahu said. 

Qatar said it would send 120 rescue workers to Turkey, alongside "a field hospital, relief aid, tents and winter supplies".

The United Arab Emirates pledged assistance worth around $13.6 million to Syria, including search and rescue teams, urgent relief supplies and emergency aid.

The UAE then pledged $100 million to be split equally between Syria and Turkey on Tuesday -- one of the largest sums yet.

The oil-rich Gulf nation is spearheading regional relief efforts, having dispatched planes to both countries with relief items and rescue teams.

Iran is ready to provide "immediate relief aid to these two friendly nations", President Ebrahim Raisi said. The Red Crescent said it would send six teams to help with search and rescue and emergency treatment.

Algeria sent an 89-member risk-management team, including medics, with 17 tonnes of equipment to Turkey. It also sent 115 tonnes of medical and food supplies to Syria, as well as tents. 

President Kais Saied ordered "humanitarian aid" for both Turkey and Syria, including over 15 tonnes of blankets and food, officials said. Tunis also appealed for volunteer medics to be flown out on Tunisian military aircraft.

The government in Japan -- which frequently suffers earthquakes -- is dispatching the Japan Disaster Relief Rescue Team to Turkey. Norway said it will donate 13.5 million euros to NGOs and humanitarian agencies helping victims in Turkey and Syria.

Two planes carrying 91 rescue workers arrived in Turkey on Tuesday, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said. The foreign ministry said it would also send a mobile field hospital and 70 more people, as well as two Navy ships which could be used by rescue workers for rest.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would send $10 million in aid to Turkey and Syria, as well as food, emergency fuel and shelter items.  

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