Four firefighters from Scotland have joined a search and rescue operation after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria killing thousands of people and affecting millions more.
The death toll, across both countries, surpassed 7,700 on Tuesday, with rescue operators saying the figure is expected to keep rising.
Watch Commander John Aitchison from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Training Centre in Portlethen, Crew Commander Steven Adams from MacAlpine Road Fire Station, Dundee, and firefighters Tony Armstrong and Keith Gauld from Aberdeen’s North Anderson Drive Fire Station have joined a 77-strong International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) deployed through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Search teams from around the world have poured into Turkey and Syria after Monday’s quake cut a swathe of destruction that stretched hundreds of miles across both countries, toppling thousands of buildings.
Search efforts have been made all the more perilous by aftershocks and freezing temperatures.
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said that 13 million of the country’s 85 million population were affected in some way — and declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces in order to manage the response.
The country’s emergency management agency said the total number of deaths in the country had passed 5,400, with more than 31,000 people injured.
The death toll in government-held areas of Syria reached more than 800 by Tuesday, with some 1,400 injured, according to the Health Ministry.
At least 1,000 people have died in the rebel-held north-west, according to the White Helmets, with more than 2,300 injured.
The region sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. Some 18,000 were killed in similarly powerful earthquakes that hit north-west Turkey in 1999.
Bruce Farquharson, deputy assistant chief officer for SFRS, and UKISAR team manager in Scotland, said: “The scenes in Turkey and Syria are devastating and our thoughts are firmly with the families, friends and communities who have been affected by these tragic earthquakes.
“Our team will use their specialist skills and a range of technical equipment as they join a wider collective effort in a bid to save lives and they will also be supporting other emergency service teams already in the area.”
WC Aitchison and CC Steven Adams have been involved in previous search and rescue missions.
The pair were previously deployed as part of a team sent to Nepal in 2015, following an earthquake near Kathmandu.
The outgoing UKISAR team is made up of firefighters and staff from 14 UK fire and rescue services from Cheshire, Essex, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, London, Mid and West Wales, Merseyside, Scotland, South Wales and West Midlands.
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