UK pledges extra £25 million in aid for Turkey and Syria earthquake victims

A photo captures the scale of the quake's fury, reducing buildings in Kahramanmaras, southern Turkey, to piles of rubble. Credit: PA

The UK government will give another £25 million in aid in the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey.

The £25 million in new overseas aid will fund tents and blankets for families made homeless in freezing conditions, as well as the ongoing deployment of medical expertise at a field hospital in Turkoglu.

The extra aid now brings the UK’s total financial support in the wake of the tragedy to to £42.8 million.

It comes as hopes of finding more survivors are dwindling, more than a week after the deadly quake. But the major rescue operation is still defying the odds - on Wednesday a woman was found alive under rubble in the southern Turkish city of Kahramanmaras, 222 hours after the quake.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the new aid from the UK government would provide “vital humanitarian assistance” to the victims of the quake.

Asked about further UK aid during a visit to Imperial College London on Wednesday, the PM told broadcasters: “The UK government has already provided considerable aid but I am pleased to announce today that we are actually going to provide £25 million further financial support.

Hopes of finding more survivors of the earthquake are dwindling. Credit: AP

“That is going to go to the United Nations, to British charities, local charities and the Turkish authorities.”

He added: “It is going to provide vital humanitarian assistance on the ground, including medical supplies, tents, blankets and it comes on top of the support we have already provided, including 77 search-and-rescue teams who have been on the ground for a while.

“We will continue to do everything we can to provide help and support on the ground.”

Ayesha stands in front of her earthquake-destroyed home that housed 12 family members in Atareb, Syria. Credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla

The death toll of the earthquake is now believed to have surpassed 35,000 people in Turkey, according to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

UN officials have warned the number of people killed could exceed 50,000.

The latest financial support from ministers builds on existing UK efforts.

The British government sent an international search and rescue team to Turkey in the early response to the disaster, and has increased support for the White Helmets volunteer organisation in war-torn Syria.

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A joint Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence field hospital, which includes an emergency department, 24-hour operating theatre and accompanying medical staff, is also providing medical care working side-by-side with Turkish medics.

Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell said: “As this evolving situation transitions from rescue to recovery, we are seeing thousands of families left homeless by the earthquake, packed into crowded tents or lined up in the streets queuing for hot meals.

“The UK’s priority is to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches people who need it most and that is why I am pleased to announce this additional funding today, which will be so vital in ensuring those affected can begin to rebuild their lives.”

A public appeal to help victims of the earthquake by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), a non-government organisation bringing together 15 UK aid charities, raised more than £60 million in its first three days.

As of Wednesday afternoon, at least £74 million had been fundraised thanks to the DEC appeal.

You can donate to the DEC's earthquake appeal here.

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