U.S. search and rescue teams are on the ground in Türkiye responding to the devastating earthquake in the region as U.S. officials pledge continued support after the disaster.
On February 6, President Biden directed U.S. officials to provide “any and all needed assistance” after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake leveled buildings and killed thousands of people in southeastern Türkiye and northern Syria. As of February 8, the death toll had risen to over 15,000 people, according to news reports.
“Our teams are deploying quickly to begin to support Turkish search and rescue efforts and address the needs of those injured and displaced by the earthquake,” Biden said. “U.S.-supported humanitarian partners are also responding to the destruction in Syria.”
The teams from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department bring search dogs and structural engineers. Both teams also responded to the massive April 2015 earthquake in Nepal.
#LACoFD USA-2 has been activated by @usaid and is deploying to the Turkey earthquake. The deployment team will consist of 81 personnel, 6 K9 teams, and 3 structural engineers. A press conference is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at 12605 Osborne St. Pacoima CA 91331. pic.twitter.com/mAGRiz8n57
— L.A. County Fire Department (@LACoFDPIO) February 6, 2023
The teams were deployed as part of a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Disaster Assistance Response Team that is assessing the disaster area, identifying priority needs and coordinating assistance with Turkish authorities and other partners.
The European Union is also sending search and rescue teams to Türkiye and is providing satellite emergency mapping systems, according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, U.S.-supported humanitarian organizations are responding to the disaster in Syria. As of February 8, the White Helmets, a Syrian emergency response organization supported by USAID, had pulled more than 1,000 survivors from the rubble. Other U.S. humanitarian partners were delivering food, water, shelter and medical support to Syrians in need.
USAID Administrator Samantha Power has called for the border between Türkiye and Syria to remain open to ensure critical assistance can get wherever it is needed.
“We are determined to do all that we can to help those affected by these earthquakes in the days, weeks, and months ahead,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said February 6.