Four Scots firefighters have joined the search and rescue operation following devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, as the death toll crossed 6,000 on Tuesday.
Set to provide specialist technical support and expertise where it is needed most, the men have joined a 77-strong International Search and Rescue (UKISAR) team.
They are: Watch Commander (WC) John Aitchison from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Training Centre in Portlethan, Crew Commander (CC) Steven Adams of MacAlpine Road Fire Station in Dundee, and firefighters Tony Armstrong and Keith Gauld from Aberdeen’s North Anderson Drive Fire Station.
Search teams and emergency aid from around the world have poured into Turkey and Syria, after buildings were flattened by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Monday morning.
The death toll has soared past 6,000 and is still expected to rise.
More than 8,000 people have been pulled from the debris in Turkey alone, and some 380,000 have taken refuge in government shelters or hotels, said Turkish vice president Fuat Oktay.
Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said 13 million of the country’s 85 million were affected in some way — and declared a state of emergency in ten provinces in order to manage the response.
For the entire quake-hit area, that number could be as high as 23 million people, according to Adelheid Marschang, a senior emergencies officer with the World Health Organisation.
The region sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. Around 18,000 people were killed in similarly powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.
The outgoing UKISAR team is made up of firefighters and staff from 14 UK fire and rescue services, deployed through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
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 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,” Bruce Farquharson, deputy assistant chief officer for SFRS, said.
“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.”
The UKISAR team responds primarily to overseas urban search and rescue emergencies on behalf of the UK.
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