Turkey earthquake damage 'worse than any war zone', says man leading UK's response

A man spearheading Britain's humanitarian response to the Turkey and Syria earthquake says the devastation is worse than any war zone he’s ever worked in.

Erlend Linklater’s regularly faced danger in conflict-hit countries including Afghanistan, Angola, Colombia, Sudan and south Sudan during his career as an aid worker.

But the 48-year-old, from Selkirk, has told how the killer 7.8 magnitude earthquake earlier this year did more damage in 80 seconds than cities flattened by months of military bombing.

His job as a Humanitarian Advisor with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has seen him visit some of the areas worst-hit by the February 6 natural disaster.

And he said: “I’ve worked in a lot of fragile conflict areas and what I’ve seen in some parts of Turkey looks like a war zone.

“It looks like there’s been a sustained bombing campaign over a prolonged period of time. The scariest thing is the earthquake took less than two minutes to cause such destruction.

“What blows your mind is that the power of the earthquake has literally turned some buildings to dust.

“I’ve worked for a number of years in live conflicts with plenty of shooting and bombing going on, but in terms of the impact emotionally, this is one of the hardest things I’ve had to work on.”

Mr Linklater has been at the forefront of the UK Government’s humanitarian response since being scrambled into action less than two hours after the earthquake had struck just after 4am on 6 February.

He helped oversee the deployment of 77 search and rescue experts from the UK to help find survivors in the rubble, including four firefighters from Scotland.

Ankara-based Erlend also helped coordinate the launch of a joint FCDO/MoD field hospital in Gaziantep, southern Turkey, which has treated over 20,000 patients, as part of a £43 million UK Government package of humanitarian support.

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