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Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team heading to Turkey after earthquake kills thousands

The deploying team will consist of 79 team members and six dogs. Plans for their deployment were still being finalized.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. โ€” Fairfax County's International Urban Search and Rescue Team is being deployed overseas after a devastating earthquake killed thousands of people in Turkey and Syria on Monday.

Officials said the powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed thousands and injured thousands more. The death toll steadily climbed all day with the latest numbers at more than 4,300 dead as of this writing. 

Thousands of buildings were destroyed trapping residents under mountains of rubble. 

RELATED: Powerful quake rocks Turkey and Syria, kills several thousand

The United States Agency for International Development's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance made the determination to deploy the elite team from Fairfax County. They are one of only two teams across the country, to deployed outside of the United States.

They departed from Chantilly, VA late Monday night. The team consists of 79 team members ranging from first responders and doctors to engineers and specialists, along with six search and rescue dogs. 

โ€œWe train very well and we train often for it," said K9 Search Specialist Paul Serzan. 

This is his dog Vader's first mission. He told WUSA9 Vader has been training for the past two years. 

"To be comfortable on a rubble pile, being comfortable in loud situations, being comfortable to go on to the rubble pile and search and bark when he finds somebody," said Serzan. 

They expect to arrive in Turkey on Tuesday. They'll team up with the task force from LA County and local rescue groups.

โ€œWe go out with search teams scan as many buildings as we can try to determine the likelihood that thereโ€™s people that are trapped," said Dean Tills, a structures specialist.

He told WUSA9 they hope to bring some comfort to the people who've had their lives turned upside down. "In a split second their lives have changed and weโ€™re there to hopefully bring them hope," said Tills.

Residents jolted out of sleep by the pre-dawn quake rushed outside in the rain and snow to escape falling debris, while those who were trapped cried for help. Throughout the day, major aftershocks rattled the region, including a jolt nearly as strong as the initial quake. After night fell, workers were still sawing away slabs and pulling out bodies as desperate families waited for news on trapped loved ones.

โ€œMy grandson is 1 1/2 years old. Please help them, please. We canโ€™t hear them or get any news from them since morning. Please, they were on the 12th floor,โ€ Imran Bahur wept by her destroyed apartment building in the Turkish city of Adana. Her daughter and family were still not found.

Tens of thousands who were left homeless in Turkey and Syria faced a night in the cold. In Turkeyโ€™s Gaziantep, a provincial capital about 33 kilometers (20 miles) from the epicenter, people took refuge in shopping malls, stadiums and community centers. Mosques around the region were opened to provide shelter.

WATCH NEXT: Powerful Earthquake kills thousands of people in Turkey and Syria 

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