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Turkey declines aid offers; at least 239 killed in quake
Turkish official says Ankara gave Israel same answer it did to all other nations who offered aid in wake of disastrous earthquake

Turkey has not yet made any call for international assistance after Sunday's powerful earthquake in which at least 239 people have been killed, a Foreign Ministry official said.

 

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Turkey had received offers of assistance from dozens of countries, including Israel, and so far had declined help from all of them.

 

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The announcement comes following an Israeli offer for aid made by President Shimon Peres in a phone call with Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Gul replied that he hopes local rescue forces can manage in the meantime.

 

The death toll in the temblor reached 239 people on Monday, with around 1,300 people injured, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said in a news conference. The quake also rattled parts of Iran and Armenia.

  

Turks in shock after quake

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The death toll was expected to rise, but not as substantially as initially feared.

 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who inspected the area late Sunday, said "close to all" mud-brick homes in surrounding villages had collapsed.

 

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday Ankara has declined aid offered by the Jewish state after an earthquake struck southeast Turkey.

 

"I am under the impression the Turks do not want our help," Barak told Channel 2 News.

 

"Right now (their answer) is negative but if they see they need more aid and don't have it, or if they rethink it, we have made the offer and remain prepared (to help)," he said.

 


מאמצי החילוץ נמשכו אחרי רדת השמש (צילום: AFP)

Rescue efforts continue after dark (Photo: AFP)

 

This raised the question whether the Turkish response is in some way linked to the diplomatic crisis between Jerusalem and Ankara following last year's Gaza flotilla. In August, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan downgraded ties with Israel including trade and military cooperation.

 

Meanwhile, the US expressed concern over the disaster. The United States is following reports about Turkey's earthquake with great concern and is ready to help, President Barack Obama said on Sunday.

 

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Turkish ally in this difficult time and are ready to assist the Turkish authorities," Obama said in a written statement. 

 

More than 70 aftershocks rocked the area, further unsettling residents who ran into the streets when the initial quake struck. Television pictures showed rooms shaking and furniture toppling as people ran from one building.

  

 

 


פרסום ראשון: 10.23.11, 22:14
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