Türkiye-Syria earthquake: UK rushes to provide search teams, equipment and aid
Image source: NDTV
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 7 February, following the devastating earthquakes which struck Türkiye and Syria.
He expressed his deep condolences for the tragic loss of life and pledged the UK’s steadfast support. Sunak confirmed that a 77-strong British search and rescue team had arrived in Gaziantep with specialist equipment and dogs, in response to a request from the Turkish government, and had immediately started work assisting with the rescue effort.
An Emergency Medical Team were also on the flight. They are conducting a full assessment of the situation on the ground. The UK government is also immediately providing the support requested by the Turkish government. The UK will continue to assess the situation and stands ready to provide further long-term assistance as needed.
The UK International Search and Rescue team is made up of firefighters and staff from 14 fire and rescue services from across the country, including experts from England, Scotland and Wales.
They will be using specialist search equipment including:
- seismic listening devices
- concrete cutting and breaking equipment, and
- propping and shoring tools
Their world-class specialist skills and state-of-the-art heavy duty equipment will allow the UK team to cut their way into buildings and locate survivors in the rubble during this vital time.
The team is self-sufficient upon arrival and provides its own food, water, shelter, sanitation, communications and all necessary equipment to undertake search and rescue operations.
In solidarity with the Turkish people, the British Embassy in Ankara and consulates across Turkey have lowered their flags to half-mast for the 7-day national mourning period declared by the Turkish government.
In north-west Syria, the UK-funded White Helmets continue to carry out a significant search and rescue response and have mobilised all their resources to respond to emerging needs.
The UK has given the White Helmets £2.25 million in the last year and an additional funding uplift of £800,000 for front line search and rescue operations.
President Erdoğan thanked the Prime Minister for the UK’s solidarity in response to this tragedy and welcomed international search and rescue and medical support for the initial emergency response.
The Prime Minister also noted the deeply concerning humanitarian situation over the border in North-West Syria, where Türkiye plays an important coordinating role, and set out how the UK has increased support to aid organisations and emergency responders.