Iran Ready To Dispatch Relief Aid for Turkish Quake Victims

August 18, 1999 - 0:0
TEHRAN President Mohammad Khatami in a message to his Turkish counterpart Suleyman Demirel, condoled with him and the Turkish people on the devastating quake which hit west of Turkey on Tuesday. The message read The news of the devastating quake in the friendly and neighboring country of Turkey which took a heavy toll saddened the Iranian people, government and me.'' I sincerely express my condolences and sympathy to you, your government and your nation and voice Iran's readiness to provide relief supply to the quake-stricken people,'' he said.

Head of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in a message to Demirel condoled the Turkish president. "The tragedy of the occurence of a quake in the Muslim, friendly and neighbouring country of Turkey which infliced extensive financial and human damages to different regions of Turkey saddened me," the message read. Also, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi expressed his deep regret over the killer earthquake in Turkey. Asefi further expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

A powerful earthquake that jolted Turkey's western and central provinces Tuesday killed 1,169 people and injured 5,550, the Anatolia news agency reported. The agency quoted the crisis center set up in the prime minister's office in Ankara as saying that the toll was valid as of 5:30 p.m. (0230 GMT). In Izmit, the epicenter of the tremor measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, 480 people were killed and 200 were injured, it said.

In nearby Yalova town, on the coast of the Marmara Sea, the quake claimed the lives of 220 people and injured 500. The report said that 157 people died and 3,726 were injured as the quake rocked Turkey's biggest city, which has a population of over 10 million. In Sakarya, bordering on Izmit, 150 people were killed and 600 injured, it added.

Anatolia said that 130 people were killed in the northwestern province of Bolu, 19 in Bursa Province, 12 in Eskisehir in central Anatolia and one in Zonguldak province on the Black Sea coast. A total of 524 people sustained injuries in these four provinces, it said. Offers of help and messages of condolence poured in from around the world Tuesday to Turkey. Governments in Europe and elsewhere offered expert and technical assistance, while political leaders expressed solidarity with the Turkish people.

The senior Turkish officials in charge of the rescue operation appealed for help. "Many countries have volunteered and we are thankful to them," Yahya Akkurt told BBC television. "For the time being, what we need is to have rescue teams of experts and excavation teams." In Geneva, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies said victims of the earthquake would need drinking water, tents and blankets as a priority.

Turkey has begun flying emergency aid to northwestern Anatolia, after main roads leading to the region were either jammed or damaged, officials said. "We have established an air corridor between the military air base in Etimesgut (in Ankara) and the airport in Golcuk (in northwestern Turkey)," acting Chairman of the Turkish Red Crescent, Nurettin Ozdemir, told Turkish state television TRT.