Russia offers aid to quake-hit Turkey

Russia’s Emergencies Ministry is ready to send rescuers and mobile medical unit to Turkey, where hundreds are feared dead after powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

The powerful tremor struck southeastern Turkey on Sunday at 13:40 local time (10:40 a.m. GMT), the U.S. Geological Survey said. It completely ruined 50 apartment buildings, including a dormitory in the city of Van as well as in the neighboring town of Ercis. About 1,000 buildings have been crumbled.

“We are estimating a death toll between 500 and 1,000,” Mustafa Erdik, head of the Kandilli Observatory, said at a news conference. The seismological service’s estimate is based on the strength of the quake and the structure of the housing in the area. About fifty people are officially reported dead.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev offered his condolences to the Turkish people, the Kremlin said. Two Il-76 planes with rescuers, psychologists, detector dog handlers as well as a mobile medical unit and rescue equipment on board are ready to head off for Turkey, it added.

Dozens of countries have already offered their help to Turkey, among them Israel. The offer of aid comes amid the ongoing tensions between the two countries caused by 2010’s Gaza flotilla raid and the recent expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Ankara.

However, according to a Reuters source, Turkey has so far declined all offers of assistance.

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