Archbishop Ieronymos: We stand in solidarity with the friendly peoples of Turkey and Syria

archbishop ieronymos

Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens has expressed his "solidarity to the friendly peoples of Turkey and Syria" following a devastating earthquake near Gaziantep that has killed thousands on both sides of the border.

"Shocked, all Greeks have been watching in the last few hours, with pain in the soul, the tragic loss of lives of hundreds to our fellow citizens in neighbouring Turkey and Syria from the devastating earthquakes. May God give strength to each and everyone and may a happy end come to the agony for the thousands of missing persons, so that we do not mourn more innocent victims", said the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece after the strongest earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria.

Subsequently, he emphasised that "I am sure that the Greeks today, as we did in 1999, will be close to our neighbours in everyway and that the Greek State will practically stand by their side, offering all possible help. We pray to God for every possible comfort and we stand in solidarity with the friendly peoples of Turkey and Syria."

Associated Press report that the death toll from Monday’s earthquakes in Turkey and Syria has now climbed to over 2,300 people.

At least 1,498 people were killed across 10 provinces of Turkey, with another 7,600 injured, according to the country’s disaster management agency.

The death toll in government-held areas of Syria rose to more than 430 people, with 1,280 injured, according to data from the health ministry. In the country’s north-west where the government is not in control, groups that operate there said the death toll was at least 380, with many hundreds injured.

The number is expected to continue to rise rapidly, with many people believed to be trapped under rubble in collapsed buildings.

A Syrian pro-government newspaper, Al-Watan, cited an official source denying its government requested Israeli assistance with earthquake relief, Reuters reports.

Israel on Monday said that it had received a Syrian request for assistance with earthquake relief and that it was prepared to oblige, in what would be rare cooperation between the enemy neighbours.

The United States is already responding after directing USAID and other federal government partners on Sunday to assess response options for the most affected areas in Turkey and Syria.

On Monday, secretary of state Antony Blinken said:

"Our initial assistance response to Türkiye is already underway, and U.S.-supported humanitarian organizations in Syria are responding to the earthquakes’ effects across the country. We are determined to do all that we can to help those affected by these earthquakes in the days, weeks, and months ahead."

READ MORE: Gaziantep Castle: 2,200-year-old fortress used by the Byzantines collapsed in Turkey earthquake (VIDEO)