Two US Agency for
International Development [USAID] teams are expected to arrive in
Türkiye and will head to the southeastern province of Adiyaman to focus on urban search and rescue following earthquakes that killed nearly 6,000 people in Türkiye and nearly 2,000 in Syria while leaving behind a trail of destruction in both countries.
USAID’s disaster assistance response team leader for the
earthquake response, Stephen Allen, told reporters on Tuesday
the teams reaching Türkiye on Wednesday morning will be about 80 people each and also bring 12 dogs
and 170,000 pounds of specialised tools and equipment, including
for triage and concrete breaking.
The US military aircraft carrying the teams and equipment
were to land at Incirlik Air Base in the southern Turkish
province of Adana and deploy immediately to hard-hit urban
centers to save as many people as possible, Allen said.
“They really do work 24/7, they work in shifts, they go
around the clock, because every hour does count in the first few
days,” Allen said.
Andy Roesgen reporting from Washington, DC said the Americans bring vast experience of working in similar situations in Japan, Nepal, and Haiti.
‘Pick up the phone and let us know’
The 7.7 magnitude quake, followed hours later by a second one almost as powerful, destroyed thousands of homes, leaving people homeless in close to freezing temperatures.
Many more are thought to be still trapped under the collapsed buildings.
President Joe Biden spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday to offer condolences and reaffirm Washington’s readiness to assist in rescue efforts. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to “pick up the phone and let us know” what Washington can do to help.
Allen said Washington expected more funding would be needed in the coming days in both Türkiye and Syria, which has also been heavily impacted by the earthquake, and that the US government was speaking to partners about additional aid.
Aid officials voiced particular concern about Syria, already afflicted by a humanitarian crisis after nearly 12 years of civil war.