Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani thanked Turkey Monday over its aid efforts mobilized immediately after a magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit the region on the Iraq-Iran border, killing more than 400 people.
Speaking in a news conference in Irbil, Barzani expressed his gratitude to the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), the Turkish Presidential Office and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for immediately contacting Kurdish officials and responding to the crisis.
"Turkey helped the Kurdistan region in time of need. They decided to send aid at the moment quake occurred," said Barzani.
A military cargo plane carrying aid and a search and rescue team arrived in northern Iraq hours after the disaster killed more than more than 410 people in Iraq and Iran. Another search and rescue team was sent via a land route by the AFAD. Turkish charities also quickly launched aid campaigns to help the quake victims.
The rescue teams from AFAD and Turkish Red Crescent were the first to arrive in northern Iraq alongside tents, blankets and medical supplies.
Turkey's aid efforts are being coordinated with the central government in Baghdad and the Iraqi Red Crescent.
Health Minister Ahmet Demircan told reporters yesterday that they had hospitals ready for possible evacuations to Turkey, and health care personnel were on alert both on the border and in airports for possible requests for aid from Iraq and Iran for the earthquake-hit areas. "There are still aftershocks, and we hope there won't be any more casualties. Turkey is ready for what it's supposed to do. We feel the pain of the victims of such disasters," he said.
Another two trucks loaded with aid were dispatched from southern Turkey's Kilis province, according to a spokesman for the nonprofit İHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation's Kilis coordination center. The trucks were loaded with 150 tents and more than 1,000 blankets as well as food, including 5 tons of rice, 1,500 liters of oil, nearly 10,000 cans of fish and 5 tons of lentils, spokesman Yakup Alaca said.
The Turkish Red Crescent also launched an aid campaign in Turkey. Donors can send a minimum of TL 10 ($2.60) by sending text messages to the Red Crescent's hotline. The İHH also launched a similar campaign for Turkish donors.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said in a statement that Turkey stands with its "brothers and sisters" who fell victim to the earthquake, while Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif over the phone yesterday to offer condolences and expressed Turkey's readiness to "provide every means of help" to Iran.