Armenia said on Thursday that it will send a planeload of humanitarian aid to survivors of a powerful earthquake in southeastern Turkey that killed more than 500 people and left thousands of others homeless.
The Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations announced that a transport plane hired by it will deliver 40 tons of tents, sleeping bags, blankets and other aid to the western Turkish city of Izmir on Friday.
A ministry statement said that the Turkish government requested such assistance through the Turkish Red Crescent Society and NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center.
The Armenian government offered to send relief aid and rescuers immediately after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the area around the Turkish city of Van on Sunday. President Serzh Sarkisian reiterated the offer in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul the following day.
With the epicenter of the quake located only 150 kilometers south of the Turkish-Armenian border, strong and unusually long tremors were also felt in much of Armenia. But they caused no devastation.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday thanked foreign nations offering help, including Armenia and Israel, but said Turkey can cope with the disaster by itself.
Erdogan’s government has since faced growing accusations of neglect or
ineptitude from scores of earthquake survivors whose homes were destroyed or seriously damaged by the quake.
Reports from the disaster zone spoke on Thursday of an acute shortage of tents badly needed by thousands of people sleeping in the open in freezing temperatures.
Answering Turkey’s call for help to supply tents, prefabricated housing and containers, foreign aid began pouring in with the first planeloads landing from France, Ukraine and Israel, Reuters news agency reported. Both Israel and Armenia have poor relations with Turkey.