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UNITED NATIONS, Oct 31 (APP): UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Friday expressed his sorrow over the loss of life and the damage from the earthquake in western Turkey.

“The Secretary-General is saddened by the loss of life and damage caused by the powerful earthquake in the Aegean Sea today,” his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, a powerful earthquake hit western Turkey and the Greek Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea. At least 17 people died in Turkey as a result of the earthquake and 763 have been injured.

The spokesman said said the UN chief extended his condolences to the bereaved families and to the governments and people of Turkey and Greece, and wished those injured a speedy recovery.

“The Secretary-General commends the local response efforts underway,” the spokesman said, adding, “The United Nations stands ready to assist if required.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, a prominent Kashmiri leader, voiced his “heartfelt sympathy” for the affected families, and conveyed condolences to quake’s victims.

“There is no doubt that this earthquake has shaken the people in Turkey and beyond, particularly in Pakistan and Kashmir,” Fai, Secretary-General of Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum, said in a statement.

“The nation of Kashmir has seen the best of the people of Turkey when an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 hit Azad Kashmir in 2005.

We saw the disaster preparedness of the Turkish volunteers in the relief activities, emergency shelters and tents for hospitals and schools,” he said, adding, “In the hour of need of the Kashmiri nation, Turkish brothers and sisters have proved to be the symbol of generosity, kindness and humanity.

“I am sure that majority of the Muslim organizations all over the world will agree with me to express their appreciation to the nation of Turkey – the nation that has always been there in many natural disasters, be it Tsunami in Indonesia, persecution of Rohingya Muslims , Gaza Freedom Flotilla, etc.,” he said.

“Today, it is our responsibility to come to help the people in the region of Izmir and beyond in whatever way and shape we can.”