The Air Force is shipping thousands of pounds of equipment and search-and-rescue teams from the U.S. to Incirlik Air Base to help assist people in Turkey following this week's devastating earthquakes that have left more than 11,000 dead.
Two Air Force C-17 Globemaster IIIs, one from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and the other from March Air Reserve Base in California, left for Turkey on Tuesday carrying 161 urban search-and-rescue members, 12 rescue dogs and 170,000 pounds of equipment, according to U.S. Transportation Command. Those planes landed Wednesday, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said.
"We offer our sincere condolences, and we'll stand with our ally Turkey as they work to save lives and recover from this horrific disaster," Ryder told reporters Wednesday.
Ryder also said U.S. European Command is deploying a team to Incirlik Air Base to assist in the disaster response efforts, with the team arriving by Thursday. A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit southeast Turkey and neighboring Syria on Monday, according to The Associated Press, and the death toll has climbed rapidly as thousands were trapped under rubble.
Incirlik Air Base, which is located nearly 10 miles east of the Turkish city of Adana, reported no deaths and no major damage following the earthquakes. The installation is home to nearly 2,000 service members and Department of Defense civilians, according to the Pentagon, and has a major role in supporting conflicts in NATO's southern region.
It also houses approximately 50 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons -- namely Cold War-era B61 nuclear bombs, according to the nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative. The base has reportedly made efforts in recent years to make sure it isn't reliant on local infrastructure following a 2016 coup attempt that saw local power to the base cut off for nearly a week.
Seventy-nine of the urban search-and-rescue personnel and six of the rescue dogs came from Fairfax County, Virginia. The other 82 people and remaining six dogs shipped to Turkey came from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, according to a press release from U.S Transportation Command.
Equipment being provided by the U.S. includes concrete breakers, generators, medical supplies, tents, water and water purification systems, TRANSCOM detailed.
Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, TRANSCOM commander, said in Tuesday press release that the C-17s were en route to Turkey and fully loaded with supplies within 24 hours of receiving word they would be assisting.
"In our profession, nothing is more noble than delivering humanitarian aid to those in need, and we are proud to support our ally Türkiye," Van Ovost said, using Turkey's preferred spelling of its country name.
-- Travis Tritten contributed to this report.
-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.