President Joe Biden said he was "deeply saddened" and promised US assistance Monday after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria, killing thousands of people.
"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.
"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.
National security spokesman John Kirby said the United States was sending two search-and-rescue teams of 79 people each, while the Pentagon and USAID were coordinating with their Turkish counterparts.
"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," Biden said in the statement.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had spoken with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to offer help.
"We are committed to doing what we can on both sides of the border to helping our Turkish allies respond in the first instance with rescue and recovery efforts. That effort will be underway soon with US assistance, but also with funding for recovery and broader response efforts," Price said.
With Syria still engulfed in a civil war and no US diplomatic relations with the government of President Bashar al-Assad, assisting Syrians caught in the earthquake is more complicated.
"We are determined to do what we can to address the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people," Price said.
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