British rescuers join race to save trapped survivors of Turkey earthquake amid fears death toll could top 10,000

7 February 2023, 00:07 | Updated: 7 February 2023, 08:37

Search and rescue teams from nations including the UK raced to Syria and Turkey to assist the search for survivors of the devastating earthquake, amid fears that the death toll from the disaster could hit 10,000.
Search and rescue teams from nations including the UK raced to Syria and Turkey to assist the search for survivors of the devastating earthquake, amid fears that the death toll from the disaster could hit 10,000. Picture: Getty

By Chris Samuel

Search and rescue teams from nations including the UK raced to Syria and Turkey to assist the search for survivors of the devastating earthquake, amid fears that the death toll from the disaster could hit 10,000.

Rescue workers joined residents in trying to find survivors in the rubble of destroyed buildings in cities either side of the two countries' border.

According to officials, over 4,300 people have died so far and hundreds more are buried underneath the rubble of collapsed buildings in freezing temperatures.

Around 1,000 rescuers from around the world, including 76 from the UK, will help local teams trying to pull people out from the huge number of collapsed buildings.

Andrew Mitchell tells LBC how UK is responding to Turkey earthquake

The scramble to save anybody buried in rubble and get help to the wounded came as a second earthquake hit, measuring 7.5.

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Earlier, Turkey's president Recep Erdogan described it as the worst disaster in the country for almost 100 years.

"Tonight at 04:17, we were shaken by the biggest disaster since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake that we underwent in the last century," he said.

Residents retrieve an injured girl from the rubble of a collapsed building following an earthquake in the town of Jandaris, in the countryside of Syria's northwestern city of Afrin.
Residents retrieve an injured girl from the rubble of a collapsed building following an earthquake in the town of Jandaris, in the countryside of Syria's northwestern city of Afrin. Picture: Getty

The earthquake was so powerful it was felt as far away as Cairo. It was centred north of Gaziantep, a Turkish city about 60 miles away from Syria.

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One of the aftershocks registered at 6.7.

National leaders vowed to help Turkey recover as they described their shock at the devastation, with Ankara opening up an air corridor to the devastated region.

Search and rescue efforts continue around the wreckage in Diyarbakir, Turkiye following 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hit Turkiye's Kahramanmaras on February 7, 2023.
Search and rescue efforts continue around the wreckage in Diyarbakir, Turkiye following 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hit Turkiye's Kahramanmaras on February 7, 2023. Picture: Getty

The UK announced it was sending 76 search and rescue specialists, four search dogs and rescue equipment to arrive on Monday evening. The UK is also sending an emergency medical team to assess the situation on the ground.

The foreign secretary James Cleverly tweeted: "The UK is sending immediate support to Türkiye including a team of 76 search & rescue specialists, equipment and rescue dogs.

"In Syria, the UK-funded White Helmets have mobilised their resources to respond.

"We stand ready to provide further support as needed.

Search and rescue efforts continue at the site in Gaziantep, Turkey on February 06, 2023
Search and rescue efforts continue at the site in Gaziantep, Turkey on February 06, 2023. Picture: Getty

Rishi Sunak said: "My thoughts are with the people of Türkiye and Syria this morning, particularly with those first responders working so valiantly to save those trapped by the earthquake.

"The UK stands ready to help in whatever way we can."

Former Premier League footballer, Christian Atsu, was among those trapped beneath the rubble after the Ghanian international made his debut for Turkish team Hatayspor on Sunday night.

He has since been found alive and is recovering in hospital.

A military plane, carrying about 45 citizens injured in the earthquake, landed at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkiye on February 07, 2023.
A military plane, carrying about 45 citizens injured in the earthquake, landed at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkiye on February 07, 2023. Picture: Getty

French president Emmanuel Macron said: "Terrible images come to us from Turkey and Syria after an earthquake of unprecedented force.

"France stands ready to provide emergency aid to the populations on the spot. Our thoughts are with the bereaved families."

German chancellor Olaf Scholz: "We are following the news of the earthquake in the Turkish-Syrian border region with shock," Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, said on Twitter. Germany will of course send help."

The European Union deployed aid workers and Poland has sent dozens of firefighters and some rescue dogs.

Residents and rescuers search for victims and survivors amidst the rubble of collapsed buildings following an earthquake in the village of Besnaya in Syria's rebel-held northwestern Idlib province on the border with Turkey, on February 6, 2022.
Residents and rescuers search for victims and survivors amidst the rubble of collapsed buildings following an earthquake in the village of Besnaya in Syria's rebel-held northwestern Idlib province on the border with Turkey, on February 6, 2022. Picture: Getty

In Malatya province, not far from the epicentre, 130 buildings were reported to have collapsed earlier. Rescuers in the city of Diyarbakir were seen calling for silence as they listened for survivors in a destroyed 11-storey building, one of 15 known to have fallen there.

The Turkish Red Crescent has issued a plea for blood donations.

Buildings were also toppled in Aleppo and Hama in Syria, while buildings shook in Damascus. Emergency rooms are packed out in the rebel-held regions there.

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