Search and rescue teams from across the European Union are being dispatched to Turkey on Monday following a devastating earthquake.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which struck shortly after 04:00 AM local time near the western Turkish city of Gaziantep, has so far claimed the lives of over 1,300 people in the country and in neighbouring Syria.
“We stand in full solidarity with the people of T?rkiye and Syria after the deadly earthquake that hit this morning. We mourn with the families of the victims,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
“Europe’s support is already on the way and we stand ready to continue helping in any way we can,” she added.
Over a dozen EU member states have so far responded to Turkey’s call for assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, the European Commission said in a statement.
Urban search and rescue teams are being mobilised from Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania with Hungary, Italy, Spain, Malta and Slovakia also offering their assistance.
The EU’s Copernicus satellite system has also been activated to provide local authorities with emergency mapping services.
High Representative Josep Borrell and Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenar?i? said the bloc’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre is “in direct contact with the authorities in Turkey to coordinate further support if needed”.
“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,” they added.
Wopke Hoekstra, the Dutch foreign minister, explained on Twitter that the Dutch team includes police and military personnel, first aid responders and firefighters.
The French foreign ministry meanwhile said before 12:00 CET that its rescue workers would “be leaving in the next few hours.”