Search and rescue teams have been dispatched from ten European member states in the wake of two devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, which have left at least 3,500 people dead.
The European Commission said on Monday that teams from Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Romania had been sent to the earthquake-stricken areas, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Speed is of the essence because so many people are still trapped under the rubble," said Janez Lenarcic, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management. "The rescue teams will continue to work for as long as necessary."
Other European countries have offered help with logistical information, seismic expertise, and equipment, as well as to house people displaced by the disaster.
Leaders across the European Union have expressed their solidarity with the areas hit by the massive quakes.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that France "stands ready to provide emergency aid to the population on the ground".
In Italy, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said she was closely monitoring the situation in Turkey and Syria, and expressed her solidarity with the people affected.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Germany "mourned with the relatives and feared for those buried".
In Greece, the closest European Union member state to the areas impacted by the quake, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was "heartbroken" by the televised scenes from the affected areas.
India and the US have also expressed their sympathy and support and offered to send help.
Both Italy and Greece temporarily closed some coastal areas as a precaution against a potential tsunami caused by the earthquake.
A magnitude-7.7 earthquake struck Turkey's southern province of Kahramanmaras at 4:17 a.m. local time. It was followed by a magnitude-6.4 quake a few minutes later in the country's southern province of Gaziantep and a magnitude-7.6 earthquake at 1:24 p.m. local time in the Kahramanmaras Province.
Buildings were leveled, bridges collapsed, and other essential infrastructure was destroyed. Hours after the quake, rescue workers were still finding survivors amid the rubble.
Officials said they expected the death toll to continue to rise in the coming days. (KB/IANS)