LONDON: Three British nationals are missing in Turkiye following Monday’s series of earthquakes, and the UK Foreign Office is providing support to at least 35 Britons affected by the disaster, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said on Tuesday.
The earthquakes struck southern Turkiye and northern Syria, killing at least 5,000 people. More than 6,000 buildings collapsed due to the shockwaves, with vital electricity and gas infrastructure damaged amid freezing winter temperatures.
“We assess that the likelihood of large-scale British casualties remains low,” Cleverly told the UK Parliament. “The Turkish government has declared a state of emergency and they are requesting international assistance on a scale that matches the enormity of the situation that they are facing.”
The UK has already authorized the deployment of a medical assessment team, Cleverly said, adding: “The further stages of requirement will evolve over time. We will, of course, work closely with our international partners to make sure we address that.
“Many of the 3.5 million Syrian refugees hosted by Turkiye reside in the affected provinces. Turkiye’s outstanding disaster relief response capability has been severely tested by the sheer scale of this catastrophe.”
He said: “Turkiye will lead the disaster relief response in the areas of Syria where it has the presence.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared 10 provinces in the country as disaster zones.
On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The UK stands ready to help in whatever way we can.”