The initial 7.4-magnitude quake had its epicentre in Pazarcik, on the Turkish–Syrian border, striking at 2.17am Swiss time (4.17am local time) on 6 February. A series of further earthquakes followed the initial tremor. According to the Turkish authorities, thousands of people have been killed or injured, with the number of casualties expected to rise. The earthquakes have caused massive damage in the affected areas of southern Turkey and northern Syria. The disaster has occurred in the middle of winter amid freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall.
Switzerland immediately responded to Turkey's appeal to the international community for help, and the Turkish authorities accepted the offer. Swiss Humanitarian Aid, which is part of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), is sending a Swiss Rescue team of 80 experts, eight rescue dogs, and supplies to Turkey, departing by aircraft from Zurich on Monday evening. The rescue team also comprises disaster response specialists from the Swiss Armed Forces.
Earlier, on Monday afternoon, the SDC had dispatched an advance team of ten specialists, primarily from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit, to the earthquake-hit areas in order to assess the needs. Three experts of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit are already in Turkey supporting the National Disaster and Emergency Management Authority attached to the Turkish Ministry of the Interior.
The SDC is also preparing humanitarian assistance to be provided to affected people in Syria. The assistance efforts will be coordinated through the SDC's offices in the region.
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