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Turkish president welcomes international aid to his country after devastating earthquake

Many countries, including Russia, have already sent rescue teams to Turkey

LONDON, February 8. /TASS/. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the international community’s assistance to his country, hit by a devastating earthquake in the early hours of Monday.

In a phone conversation with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak late on Tuesday, "President Erdogan 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," UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement.

Many countries, including Russia, have already sent their rescue teams to the disaster-stricken country.

Sunak confirmed to Erdogan that 77 British rescuers with specialist equipment and dogs arrived in the city of Gaziantep on Tuesday in response to a request from the Turkish government. The UK premier also extended his condolences to the Turkish president.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in neighboring Syria, whose northern regions were also hit by the natural disaster. The United Kingdom stopped short of sending rescuers there, but is providing assistance via the White Helmets non-governmental organization, financed by London.

"The Prime Minister also noted the deeply concerning humanitarian situation over the border in North-West Syria, where Turkiye plays an important coordinating role, and set out how the UK has increased support to aid organisations and emergency responders," the statement says.

Earthquakes of magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 hit the Kahramanmaras province in southeastern Turkey on Monday. The tremors, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, were felt in ten provinces, as well as in neighboring countries, including Syria. Latest casualty reports say that almost 5,900 people had been killed and almost 35,000 injured.

According to the Syrian Health Ministry, more than 800 people have fallen victim to the natural disaster in Syria, with over 1,400 people injured. No casualty reports for areas outside the Syrian government’s control are available at the moment. However, according to an Al Jazeera report, the tremor claimed the lives of over 1,000 people in Syria’s northern regions, over 2,400 were injured.