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ACT OF SOLIDARITY

Greece sends earthquake aid to Turkey, putting aside rivalry

Emergency personnel and locals search for survivors at the site of a collapsed building in the aftermath of a major earthquake in the Elbistan district of Kahramanmaras, Turkey, 8 February 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / SEDAT SUNA)

Greece sent thousands of tents, beds and blankets on Thursday to help the hundreds of thousands of people left homeless by deadly earthquakes in Turkey, in an act of solidarity with a neighbour that is a Nato ally but also a historic foe.

Greece plans to provide a total of 80 tonnes of assistance such as blankets, beds, tents and medical supplies, its civil protection ministry said. Commercial flights carrying boxes with part of the aid landed at the Turkish airport of Adana early on Thursday, with the operation expected to conclude by Friday.

“We have brought medicines, medical supplies and essentials to relieve a bit the pain of quake-afflicted people,” said Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides, who escorted the aid to Adana. “It’s time we all show our feelings of humanism.”

The quakes that struck Turkey and Syria on Monday killed thousands, flattened swathes of towns and cities and left hundreds of thousands homeless in the middle of a cold winter.

Greece and Turkey have been at odds for decades over a range of issues, from territorial rights in the Aegean Sea to ethnically split Cyprus and migration, and tensions had rekindled recently.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday to offer his condolences over the lives lost.

Arriving at an EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday, Mitsotakis said that Greece would be at the forefront of an EU-wide initiative to host a donor conference in Brussels, looking to secure additional funds and help rebuild quake-devasted areas.

In addition to the aid sent, about 36 Greek rescue workers with dogs, doctors and engineers have been operating in Turkey. Greek authorities have said the Greek teams have pulled out five survivors from the rubble in the Turkish town of Hatay, among thousands still buried under collapsed buildings.

Local authorities across Greece are also organising drives to collect basic necessities to be sent to the Turkish people.

Greece and Turkey saw their relations improving in the past, following earthquakes that hit both countries in the summer of 1999.

(Reporting by Deborah Kyvrikosaios and Angeliki Koutantou; Writing by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Frances Kerry.)

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