Polish rescuers on the ground in Turkey

A team of 76 Polish search and rescue specialists arrived in Turkey in the early hours of Tuesday morning to help in rescue and relief operations after the south-east of the country and northern Syria were hit by a major earthquake on Monday morning.

The death toll in Turkey and Syria rose to over 5,000 on Tuesday afternoon, and the World Health Organisation has warned that it could reach 20,000.

The team's commander, Grzegorz Borowiec, told PAP that the rescuers have been redirected to the city of Besni instead of their original destination Adiyaman after Besni inhabitants appealed for help. Borowiec said close to 30 collapsed buildings have been reported in the city of 70,000, which considerably raises the chances of finding survivors.

The Polish rescuers, accompanied by five paramedics and eight rescue dogs, arrived in Turkey early on Tuesday morning.

Their main job will be searching for survivors under the rubble of ruined buildings. The operation is scheduled to last seven days, the maximum duration of rescue missions.