May 19. 2024. 2:16

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Greece, Albania, Kosovo send rescue teams to earthquake-shaken Turkey


The governments of Greece, Albania, and Kosovo have reacted with shock to the series of powerful earthquakes that shook Turkey on Sunday and Monday, pledging on-the-ground assistance and aid.

A 7.8 and 7.5 earthquake struck southern Turkey and northern Syria on Sunday night. At the time of writing, more than 2,500 people have been killed, making it the strongest quake to have hit the country since 1939 when about 30,000 people were killed.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had a telephone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in which he expressed his condolences for the tragedy.

Greece sent with C-130s an emergency mission which included a group of 21 firefighters with two rescue dogs and a special rescue vehicle.

Greek media reported that against the backdrop of tensions due to the maritime dispute in the Aegean, the two countries have always shown solidarity when it comes to human catastrophes.

For his part, Albanian PM Edi Rama announced that a solidarity rescue mission would leave for the affected area on Monday to assist with recovery efforts.

“Deeply saddened by this morning’s news of the devastating earthquake that struck parts of Turkey and Syria. Our deepest condolences to the many families who lost their lives and we wish the injured a speedy recovery. A solidarity rescue mission will leave today for Turkey,” writes Rama.

Foreign Minister Olta Xhacka also reacted and offered necessary assistance.

“Our hearts and our prayers go to the victims of the tragic earthquake that hit #Türkiye & #Syria today causing hundreds of victims. In this difficult hour we are ready to assist #Türkiye in any way we can,” she wrote on Twitter.

Ankara also showed solidarity with the two countries in the aftermath of the 2019 earthquake in Albania and in 1999 in Greece.

In 2019, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck Durres, 35 kilometres from the capital of Tirana. It killed five people and left thousands homeless as apartment blocks collapsed or were damaged beyond repair. Turkey responded by sending significant aid, building entire new neighbourhoods and a new hospital in the central-south of the country.

In Kosovo, President Vjosa Osmani authorised security forces to leave for the country to provide vital assistance.

“My heart goes out to all affected communities by the devastating earthquake in Türkiye. Deepest condolences for all the lives lost & wishing a swift recovery for all those impacted. Full solidarity with the people of Türkiye. Kosovo is ready to offer necessary support incl. through KSF,’ she tweeted in both English and Turkish.

The Albanian, Kosovar, and Greek teams joined the likes of Croatia, Czechia, France, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania who are also sending assistance, according to a statement from the European Commission.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al, Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com)