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Armenia Sends Earthquake Relief Aid To Turkey

Homeless survivors of a major earthquake in the eastern province of Van take shelter at the Turkish Red Crescent tent camp in Ercis.
YEREVAN -- Armenia says it will send a planeload of humanitarian aid to the survivors of a powerful earthquake in southeastern Turkey that killed more than 500 people and left thousands of others homeless, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The Armenian Emergency Situations Ministry announced that a transport plane will deliver 40 tons of tents, sleeping bags, blankets, and other aid to the western Turkish city of Izmir on October 28.

A ministry statement said the Turkish government requested such assistance from the international community 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 October 23.

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, though they caused no devastation.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on October 24 thanked foreign countries for offering help -- including Armenia and Israel, which have poor relations with Ankara -- 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 October 27 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 reported.