“Saddened by the news of the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria that resulted in the loss of so many lives,” tweeted Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. “Our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and we wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”
“Armenia is ready to provide assistance,” he wrote.
Pashinian did not specify whether the Armenian government is ready to send relief aid and/or search-and-rescue teams. The government made no statements to that effect immediately after his tweet.
A spokesman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry said later in the day that Yerevan is now exploring ways of sending “humanitarian or rescue assistance” to the two countries.
Armenia has no diplomatic relations with Turkey but maintains a cordial relationship with Syria’s government.
The magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck central Turkey and northwest Syria early in the morning, tearing down many buildings. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised address that it left at least 912 people dead in Turkey.
In neighboring Syria, at least 386 people died, including 239 mostly in the regions of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Tartus, according to a Syrian state TV report cited by CNN. The city of Aleppo has a sizable ethnic Armenian population.
At least four Syrian Armenians and two Turkish citizens of Armenian descent were reportedly killed by the quake.
Zarmig Boghigian, the editor of the Alepp-based Armenian-language newspaper “Kantsasar,” said the victims included a young woman and her son. Her husband and daughter were seriously injured and hospitalized, Boghigian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service from the northern Syrian city.
“The earthquake was very powerful and lasted long,” she said, adding that it caused serious damage to local Armenian schools, churches and other buildings.
The Foreign Ministry in Yerevan reported, meanwhile, that it has opened a hotline for Armenia’s citizens who live in the earthquake zone and may need help.