President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday expressed "deep sorrow" over wildfire deaths in Greece and offered help to Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras over the phone, according to a presidential source. President Erdoğan conveyed his condolences to Tsipras on the loss of lives and wished a speedy recovery to the injured, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, said. The president told the Greek premier that he shares the pain of the Greeks, and Turkey remains ready to help Greece, the source added. In a tweet, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın also extended his condolences to Greek PM Tsipras and the Greek people. "Turkey stands ready to help," he added.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu assured that Turkey was ready to help Greece and said that if needed, Turkey's firefighting airplanes and helicopters were ready to fly to Greece.
Speaking to reporters in Parliament, Turkish Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said he had spoken with his Greek counterpart and informed that firefighting aircraft stands ready to deploy from Izmir, an Aegean province due east of Athens. "We have received no request at the moment," Pakdemirli added.
Together with Turkey, Italy also offered two Canadair firefighting aircraft to help Greece battle wildfires that have killed dozens of people near Athens. Premier Giuseppe Conte yesterday tweeted Italy's support for Greece and condolences for those who have died. He announced Italy was making the two water-dropping aircraft available.
Italy routinely experiences summertime wildfires, particularly in the south. Late Monday firefighters in Sicily brought the latest one under control near Acireale, with the help of two Canadairs. Greece sought international help through the European Union as fires on either side of Athens left lines of cars torched, charred farms and forests, and sent hundreds of people racing to beaches to be evacuated by navy vessels, yachts and fishing boats. The coast guard said 19 people had been found at sea and rescued, while 696 had been picked up from beaches and coastline by boat.