Nicosia has offered to send help to Turkey despite the country maintaining an occupation in the northern portion of Cyprus and Ankara refusing to officially acknowledge the existence of the Republic of Cyprus.
In a statement issued by the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government expressed its “deep sadness for the numerous victims of the earthquakes.”
“We express our sincere condolences to the families of the victims,” the statement said. “Natural disasters do not distinguish people and nationalities.
“We stand in solidarity with all those suffering and the families of the victims and we are ready to contribute to the humanitarian efforts of the international community.”
Greek Cypriot officials said they were willing to help rescue efforts in the devastated areas.
The 7.8-magnitude quake was felt across Cyprus, which lies around 40 miles of Turkey’s southern coast. Residents in Nicosia, the island’s divided capital, described how they were jolted awake when it struck at 3:17 AM.
A second earthquake at 12:24 PM local time, estimated at 7.5 on the Richter scale, had been “felt intensely across all of Cyprus,” the island’s geological survey department said.
Prior to that quake another measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale shook the coastal of Famagusta prompting panic-stricken locals to rush out of buildings at around 11:23 AM.
It was the second quake to rattle the Famagusta coastal region in as many days, a sign of the seismic activity across the East Mediterranean basin.
Cyprus, which has been rattled by aftershocks throughout the day, has been divided between Greeks and other minorities in the south and Turks in the north since 1974 when Ankara ordered the invasion of the island.
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.
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."
António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, has tweeted his condolences to those affected by the earthquakes, saying that the UN is ready to support emergency response efforts:
"I am deeply saddened by the news of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, and offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. The UN stands ready to support emergency response efforts."
The magnitude 7.8 quake hit before sunrise in cold winter weather. It was the worst to strike Turkey this century. Its epicentre was close to the southern city of Gaziantep, and tremors were felt as far away as Cyprus, Cairo and Mosul.
The initial earthquake was followed by more than 100 aftershocks, including a magnitude 7.7 tremor during the day on Monday that interrupted search and rescue efforts.
The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said preliminary data showed that the second large quake occurred 67km (42 miles) north-east of Kahramanmaraş, Turkey, at a depth of 2km.
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