Three British nationals are missing following the earthquake in Turkey in which more than 5,000 people have died, the foreign secretary has said.
In a statement to the Commons, James Cleverly said the Foreign Office was supporting some 35 British nationals directly affected by the incident.
A UK search and rescue team have been deployed to Turkey to help in the race to find survivors.
King Charles has sent his “special prayers” to those affected.
The monarch said in a statement: “Our thoughts and special prayers are with everyone who has been affected by this appalling natural disaster, whether through injury or the destruction of their property, and also with the emergency services and those assisting in the rescue efforts.”
The huge 7.8 magnitude quake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria in the early hours of Monday, when most people were asleep in their homes.
Emergency workers are now desperately trying to save people trapped beneath rubble after thousands of buildings collapsed. The 5,000 death toll, across both Turkey and Syria, continues to rise.
Outlining the UK’s response, the foreign secretary confirmed three UK citizens were missing, and 35 others were being supported, adding”the likelihood of large-scale British casualties remains low”.
He said more than 6,000 buildings had collapsed during, or in the wake of, the earthquake, and electricity and gas infrastructure had been severely damaged.
“The Turkish government has declared a state of emergency and they are requesting international assistance on a scale that matches the enormity of the situation that they are facing,” Mr Cleverly said.
He later said the government would also increase funding to the White Helmets civil defence organisation in Syria, “to support their emergency response operations” – although he did not say how much money would be provided.
The civil war has complicated the situation on the ground in Syria and the UK has little direct access to the north west where territorial control is largely divided between government, opposition groups and militias.
The White Helmets organisation was set up in 2014 during the war and is made up of volunteers that have helped with civilian evacuations and search and rescue operations after bombings.
Mr Cleverly told MPs the UK would provide help within Syria through charities including the International Medical Corps, Save the Children and UN agencies.
On Tuesday evening, a plane carrying 77 UK search and rescue specialists, four search dogs and equipment including seismic listening devices, concrete-cutting and breaking equipment, and propping tools, landed in Gaziantep in south-east Turkey.
They had been due to travel on Monday but were delayed.
The International Search and Rescue Team (UK-ISAR) – made up of firefighters and staff from 14 fire and rescue services from across the country – will cut their way into buildings and help to locate survivors.
They include emergency medical personnel who will conduct a full assessment of the situation on the ground, the Foreign Office said.
Leading the group, Phil Garrigan, chief fire officer of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: “The team will be able to use a range of technical expertise, kit and equipment in areas where it is needed most, over the next 14 days, in a bid to save lives.”
Meanwhile, many in the UK and Turkish community are in anguish over the fate of loved ones.
Cengiz Akarsu, from Country Durham, said his childhood friend was still missing following the quake and it would be a “miracle” if he was alive.
“He’s got two little kids,” he told BBC Radio Newcastle. “I called his brothers – they’re on the way but unfortunately the roads going into the city, they’ve been damaged, and then the bridge has collapsed on the roads, so they cannot pass through.
“We don’t want to believe he died, but when I’ve spoken to people who live in that area they say its more than a miracle if they come out of that.
“It is really, really bad.”
He added his brother had survived, despite a wall collapsing on him.
“We are all grateful my family is fine, but the sad thing is, we just know there are a lot of people underneath collapsed buildings.”
Kitle Eikelberg, from Richmond, London, said some distant relatives had been killed in her home village Maksutusagi in southern Turkey,
“Distant relatives died, but none of my closer relatives – they managed to escape,” she said.
“All my close relatives are in the open or in their cars and no-one has come to the rescue in the villages.
“It is freezing temperatures, they have no power, no water, and their phone batteries are dying.”
She said she was “broken” by the “nightmare” situation.
Ali Topaloglu, from the Nottingham Turkish Community, told the BBC his family were among those directly affected, with some immediate family killed.
He said: “It’s shocking. I cannot find the words to describe the situation… it’s devastating news.”
Meanwhile, the British Turkish Association has praised communities across London for raising between £200,000 and £300,000, which has paid for 300 boxes of donated aid to be sent on a Turkish Airlines cargo plane from Heathrow.
Source : BBC