Greece was the first country to offer aid to Turkey

Turkey earthquake Greece

Government spokesperson Yiannis Economou on Tuesday revealed that Greece was the first country to offer aid to Turkey when speaking at a press briefing in Thessaloniki.

"[Greece] was the first to offer assistance and is already providing aid" by sending rescue workers and experts in dealing with earthquakes to the affected areas," the spokesperson said.

Economou said that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday spoke on the phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and expressed the sorrow of the government and the Greek people for the humanitarian disaster caused by the strong earthquake in the neighbouring country.

The prime minister also repeated that Greece is ready to assist in every possible way, Economou said. Erdogan thanked Mitsotakis for the support and the immediate aid that Greece is providing.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a three-month state of emergency in 10 provinces worst-affected by an earthquake that has killed thousands.

Mr Erdogan said that the death toll in Turkey has risen to 3,549 people.

More than 1,600 people are reported to have died in Syria.

In a televised address, Mr Erdogan said the state of emergency is to ensure that rescue work can be "carried out quickly" in the country's south-east.

He said the measures would allow relief workers and financial aid into the affected regions, but did not give further details.

The state of emergency will end just before elections on 14 May, when Mr Erdogan will attempt to stay in power after 20 years.

Turkey last imposed a state of emergency in 2016 after a failed coup attempt. It was lifted two years later.

Rescuers in Turkey are battling heavy rain and snow as they race against the clock to find survivors of the earthquake that struck in the early hours of Monday.

The World Health Organization has warned the toll may rise dramatically as rescuers find more victims.

Heavy machinery worked through the night in the city of Adana, with lights illuminating the collapsed buildings and huge slabs of concrete, in scenes repeated across southern Turkey.

Occasionally the work stopped and a call of "Allahu Akbar" rose up when a survivor was found, or when the dead were recovered.

Adana is full of the homeless - those who lost their homes and others too fearful of aftershocks to return.

Some left without shoes, coats and phone chargers. Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing later this week.

The 7.8 magnitude tremor struck at 04:17 (01:17 GMT) on Monday at a depth of 17.9km (11 miles) near the city of Gaziantep, according to the US Geological Survey.

A later tremor had a magnitude of 7.5 and its epicentre was in the Elbistan district of Kahramanmaras province.

On Tuesday morning, traffic was at a standstill on the main highway to the Turkish city of Maras, close to the epicentre of the quake.

Cars occasionally crawled forward, the wet road illuminated by glowing red brake lights. Few rescuers have made it to this part of southern Turkey yet.

One search and rescue team on their way to the city, their van loaded with specialist equipment and supplies, told the BBC they were eager to start looking for survivors, but they had no idea how bad the devastation would be when they arrived.

Nationally, 8,000 people have been rescued from more than 4,700 destroyed buildings, Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said in its latest statement.

As aftershocks continue, rescuers in some areas have been digging through rubble with their bare hands. But freezing conditions are hampering search efforts.

In the southern province of Hatay, the Reuters news agency reported that a woman's voice was heard calling for help under a pile of rubble.

"They're making noises, but nobody is coming," a resident who gave his name as Deniz said while weeping.

"We're devastated, we're devastated. My God... They're calling out. They're saying, 'Save us,' but we can't save them. How are we going to save them? There has been nobody since the morning."

In Hatay, Ghanaian footballer Christian Atsu - who made 107 appearances for Newcastle - was pulled from the rubble of a building with injuries, his manager Mustafa Özat told Turkish radio.

Atsu now plays for Turkish club Hatayspor. The club's sporting director, Taner Savut, is still under the rubble, Mr Özat said.

READ MORE: EARTHQUAKE DISASTER: Turkey rejects Cyprus' offer for assistance.

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