Turkey backtracks, asks Israel for mobile homes for earthquake survivors
Israel to airlift prefabricated homes to Turkey, which will provide temporary housing for families whose homes were destroyed and are now stuck in constant rain and single-digit Celsius overnight temperatures.
ERCIS, Turkey - The onset of rain and low temperatures in this earthquake-battered region on Tuesday led Ankara to backtrack from its declarations in the past two days about not needing outside aid. On Tuesday, the Turkish government asked its Jerusalem counterpart for portable structures.
A spokesman for Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that several prefabricated homes would be airlifted to Turkey Wednesday , to be followed by additional shipments of supplies within the next few days. The homes will provide temporary housing for families whose homes were destroyed in the earthquake and are now stuck in constant rain and single-digit Celsius overnight temperatures.
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said Ankara had sought the aid via the Israeli embassy in the Turkish capital. President Shimon Peres was the first senior Israeli figure to offer assistance to Turkey, in a phone call on Sunday to his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also offered assistance in a telephone call to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the quake struck on Sunday.
The Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv joined the appeal to the foreign and defense ministries yesterday. The humanitarian step came as more than 400 were reported dead in the disaster that struck southeastern Turkey.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor confirmed that Turkey had "relayed a request to the embassy in Ankara for mobile homes."
In Ankara, a Foreign Ministry official said Turkey had requested prefabricated housing and tents from more than 30 countries.
"We informed all countries who offered help, including Israel, of a request on specific items for post-emergency material," the official said.
Turkey has declined all Israeli offers to send Israel Defense Forces rescue teams to help in the search for survivors.
Barak Ravid, Amos Harel and news agencies contributed to this report.