Switzerland offers support to Syria and Turkey after major quake

Rescuers search for victims at a collapsed building after a powerful earthquake hit Diyarbakir in southern Turkey, close to the Syrian border, on February 6, 2023. Keystone / Deniz Tekin

Switzerland is sending support to Syria and Turkey after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and northwest Syria early on Monday.

This content was published on February 6, 2023 minutes

At least 1,500 people have died and more than 9,700 are injured in Turkey, an official from the disaster and emergencies management agency (AFAD) said. And least 800 people were killed in Syria and more than 2,300 people injured, state news agency (SANA) quoted a senior health official as saying. A new 7.5-magnitude tremor hit at around 11.30 CET, which officials said was "not an aftershock".

Many buildings have collapsed, triggering searches for survivors in the rubble. The quake, which hit in the early darkness of a winter morning near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, was also felt in Cyprus, Israel and Lebanon.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation sent 10 specialists to assess the situation on Monday. Switzerland is preparing to send 80 search-and-rescue experts, including army personnel, later in the evening. 

Governments and international organisations have responded with condolences and offers of support.

“Our thoughts are with the people of Turkey and Syria hit by the tragic earthquake. We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and wish recovery to all the injured. Switzerland is ready to provide emergency relief,” Interior Minister Berset, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, tweeted on Monday.

Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis also expressed his condolences for the tragedy and said Switzerland was ready to offer humanitarian aid to Turkey after the “terrible earthquake”.

Air corridor

The Turkish armed forces have set up an air corridor to enable search-and-rescue teams to reach the zone affected by the major earthquake in southern Turkey, the country's defence ministry said.

Various countries have promised to send rescue teams and support, including the United States, India, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Greece, Spain, Taiwan and Israel.

The region straddles seismic fault lines. It is the most severe quake in Turkey since 1999, when a similar magnitude quake devastated Izmit and the heavily populated eastern Marmara Sea region near Istanbul, killing more than 17,000 people.

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