US President Joe Biden said he was “deeply saddened” and promised his country’s assistance Monday after a major 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, killing nearly 1,800 people, Agence France-Presse reported.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation caused by the earthquake in Turkiye and Syria. I have directed my team to continue to closely monitor the situation in coordination with Turkiye and provide any and all needed assistance,” the president tweeted from his official account.
The 7.8-magnitude nighttime tremor wiped out entire sections of major Turkish cities in a region filled with millions of people who have fled the civil war in Syria and other conflicts.
The initial quake was followed by more than 50 aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude tremor that jolted the region in the middle of search-and-rescue work on Monday afternoon.
“Our teams are deploying quickly to begin to support Turkish search and rescue efforts and address the needs of those injured and displaced by the earthquake,” he added in a statement later released by the White House.
The statement said Biden had called on US officials to reach out to their Turkish counterparts to coordinate on assistance, and that humanitarian groups supported by the United States were responding to the destruction in Syria.
“Today, our hearts and our deepest condolences are with all those who have lost precious loved ones, those who are injured, and those who saw their homes and businesses destroyed,” he said in the statement.
Turkey is in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.
Turkey’s Marmara region suffered a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in 1999 — the worst to hit Turkey in decades.
That quake killed more than 17,000 people, including about 1,000 in İstanbul.