Australia will give $10 million (US$6.9 million) in humanitarian assistance to help response efforts following Turkey’s devastating earthquake.
The death toll from Monday’s quake has risen to more than 7,300.
Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said Australia’s consular services were working with local authorities to follow up on a “small number” of citizens in affected areas.
“It is a crisis that is affecting so many of our fellow human beings. We will continue to monitor the unfolding situation on the ground,” she told the Senate.
The government will provide $7 million to Turkey, of which $4 million will be provided through Red Cross and Red Crescent partners to support the injured and evacuation efforts with food and items such as tents and blankets.
A further $3 million will be allocated as needs become clearer.
In Syria, $3 million will be administered by UNICEF to help with shelter, clean water and sanitation, with the Syrian aid focusing on women and girls.
New Zealand will also provide $1.5 million.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese conveyed Australia’s condolences, saying the nation was deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and devastation.
“All of the world’s thoughts and condolences are with the people in this region who are suffering at this time,” he said.
Turkish ambassador to Australia, Ufuk Gezer, said it was a “tragedy of unprecedented level”, with the rescue effort hampered by “quite difficult” conditions.
“More than 13,000 rescue workers have been dispatched,” he told Sky News.
“We sent more than 3000 (pieces of) heavy equipment to the area for lifting of the rubble and helping with the rescue efforts, and, in addition to that, more than 45 countries have sent search and rescue teams.”
He said he was pleased with the Australian response, and officials were seeking to get information out to 150,000 Turkish Australians wanting to contact their loved ones.
“The communication lines were down for a couple of hours, but now—despite some hiccups—they’re pretty much OK … and we’ve been trying to help our citizens who are residing in Australia to the best of our ability.”
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham also expressed his condolences, reflecting on his conversation with the Turkish ambassador.
“None of us imagines that the homes we are living in will collapse upon us in the middle of the night,” he said.
Birmingham also praised the rescue efforts and volunteers working in the disaster zones.