A Greek Cypriot light rescue team is looking for a way to assist in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Turkey, where people were racing against the clock to find survivors, but there was still little information provided by officials who rushed to clarify reasons for the delay.
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The foreign ministry of the Republic of Cyprus says a team of 18 rescuers, including a doctor and a nurse, was being put together to travel to Turkey to assist in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake where thousands were dead or missing, including Turkish Cypriots.
Nicosia quickly responded to Turkey’s call for help through the European Civil Protection Mechanism and the offer was accepted on Wednesday afternoon, according to Cypriot foreign ministry spokesperson Demetris Demetriou, who spoke on state radio on Thursday morning.
'This offer was declined as the needs, at least at this stage, required the immediate dispatch of specialized heavy rescue teams' Nicosia said on Tuesday
But it was not clear when the team would be ready to leave for Turkey, while officials have not named the leader of the mission or provided details about their dispatch.
“We are still looking for the most direct way for the team to travel to Turkey,” Demetriou said.
Earlier this week an initial Greek Cypriot offer for assistance was not immediately accepted as it did not meet the criteria listed by Ankara in its initial call for help, according to a foreign ministry statement.
“This offer was declined as the needs, at least at this stage, required the immediate dispatch of specialized heavy rescue teams,” the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
On Wednesday local reports said that the initial offer had been rejected, with some Greek Cypriot media outlets suggesting political motives were at play.
Cypriot foreign ministry director Kornelios Korneliou told a local television program on Wednesday that “there is the issue of non recognition,” referring to Ankara not recognizing the Republic of Cyprus due to the ethnic division on the island.
“It appears that politics often dominate even in matters of natural disasters and human tragedies,” Korneliou said.
But Demetriou did not agree with Korneliou’s assessment, saying “we did not know whether there were political motives in [Turkey’s] decision.”
“After the offer for a light rescue team was accepted, it appears this may not have been an issue at all,” Demetriou said.