Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Turkey earthquake: Government will accept foreign aid

The BBC's Jonathan Head: "Shelter is the critical thing here"

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Turkey will accept offers of aid from foreign countries to cope with the aftermath of a 7.2-magnitude earthquake, officials say.

The country has substantial experience of delivering relief after quakes and had, until now, rejected help.

But officials now say they are in urgent need of housing. Some 2,000 homes have been destroyed.

The death toll from the disaster stands at 459 people, with some 1,352 others injured.
On Wednesday, emergency workers rescued a 27-year-old woman alive - nearly three days after she was trapped in a collapsed building.

Caravans needed

Turkey is seeking assistance for reconstruction and temporary accommodation for the thousands who have been left homeless, the semi-state news agency Anatolia reports.

The government is seeking tents, prefabricated houses and living containers, it says.
Israel will be among the first to send aid, according to AFP news agency.

Ties with Turkey have been strained since May 2010, when Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla trying to sail to Gaza in defiance of a blockade, killing nine Turks.

"Turkey has asked us for caravans for the homeless after the earthquake," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP.

He said they had accepted the request and would seek to supply them as quickly as possible.
Israel's defence ministry said a first Boeing 747 would transport mobile homes to Turkey on Wednesday, and other planes would follow in the coming days.

The Japanese embassy in Ankara said its government would send around $400,000 (£250,000), Anatolia reports.

The BBC's Jonathan Head, in Ercis, says that the government has recognised that it now needs specific help in technical areas where it lacks the resources to get things up fast enough.

The Turkish government has pledged more aid to the thousands made homeless and aid agencies have set up field hospitals and kitchens and distributed thousands of tents and blankets.

But survivors, many now living in camps, have fought over shipments of aid and blocked aid shipments.

Health officials have urged them to drink bottled water after detecting an increase in diarrhoea cases, especially among the children.

Turkish officials have warned that the death toll is likely to rise.

Turkey is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because it sits on major geological fault lines.

Turkey earthquake map 
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