Greece sends rescue teams to Turkey

turkey earthquake rescue

21 firefighters, two rescue dogs and a special rescue vehicle are departing in the next few hours for an aid mission to Turkey, which has been hit by a very strong earthquake.

At Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis orders, Greece immediately responded to Turkey's request to send aid to deal with the devastating consequences of the 7.8 Richter earthquake that stroke in the early hours of Monday in Southeast Turkey and Syria.

The team will be accompanied by a Fire Brigade officer-engineer, five doctors and rescuers from EKAB as well as the professor and president of the Earthquake Planning and Protection Organisation of Greece, Efthymios Lekkas.

The mission will depart with a C-130 military aircraft from Elefsina airport.

Meanwhile, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Monday said that she was shocked by the images of destruction caused by the strong earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria and expressed her deepest condolences, as well as those of the Greek people, to the families of the victims.

"We stand in solidarity, we support the work of the rescue teams and we wish a speedy recovery to the injured," she added.

Elsewhere, professor and president of the Earthquake Planning and Protection Organisation of Greece, Efthymios Lekkas, told AMNA: "We still don't know if the 7.7 Richter earthquake that hit southern Turkey on Monday morning was the main one."

"It's a very big earthquake and its consequences will be multiple," Lekkas said adding that it occurred in a large fault that starts in Lebanon and goes all the way to the Black Sea.

Lekkas estimated that this earthquake will not affect faults in the Greek area nor is it related to the 4.2 Richter earthquake that occurred in the early morning in Rhodes.

A powerful earthquake has struck south-eastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, killing more than 1,700 people as they slept and trapping many others.

The US Geological Survey said the 7.8 magnitude tremor struck at 04:17 local time (01:17 GMT) at a depth of 17.9km (11 miles) near the city of Gaziantep.

Hours later, a second quake, which had a magnitude of 7.5, hit the Elbistan district of Kahramanmaras province.

So far, more than 1,000 people have died in Turkey and 780 in Syria.

Seismologists said the first quake was one of the largest ever recorded in Turkey.

Many thousands of people were injured - with at least 5,385 people hurt in Turkey and 2,000 in Syria.

Many of the victims are in war-torn northern Syria, where millions of refugees live in camps on both sides of the Syria-Turkey border. There have been dozens of fatalities reported in rebel-held areas.

Many buildings have collapsed and rescue teams have been deployed to search for survivors under huge piles of rubble in freezing and snowy conditions.

Shocking images show buildings that were four or five storeys high flattened, roads destroyed and mountains of rubble.

Among the buildings destroyed was Gaziantep Castle, a historical landmark that had stood for more than 2,000 years.

And a shopping mall in the city of Diyarbakir collapsed, a BBC Turkish correspondent there reported.

The second quake, which struck at 13:24 local time (10:24 GMT), had its epicentre about 80 miles (128km) north of the original tremor in the Pazarcik district of Kahramanmaras province.

An official from Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority said it was "not an aftershock" and was "independent" from the earlier quake.

Hours after the first earthquake, a toddler was pulled from the rubble in Azaz, Syria, dirty and bloodied but alive. Video shows rescuers running to get her out of the cold.

The Turkish Red Crescent has called for citizens to make blood donations, and the organisation's president, Kerem Kınık, said on Twitter that additional blood and medical products were being sent to the affected region.

Following an international appeal for help, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 45 countries had offered support.

The European Union is sending search and rescue teams to Turkey, while rescuers from the Netherlands and Romania are already on their way. The UK has said it will send 76 search and rescue specialists, equipment and rescue dogs to Turkey.

France, Germany, Israel, and the United States have also pledged to help. Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered help to both Turkey and Syria, as has Iran.

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