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Nicosia says Turkey rejected earthquake help

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Cyprus expressed its readiness to assist in the rescue efforts after the devastating earthquake in Turkey, but the Turkish side did not accept help from the Republic, officials said.

Foreign Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Kornelios Korneliou told CNA: “We conveyed this readiness through the European Civil Protection Mechanism and the Greek Cypriot negotiator, Menelaos Menelaou”.

Through the Mechanism, each EU member state can express its readiness to assist in natural disasters such as earthquakes.

“Following consultation with the Civil Defence, we expressed our readiness to assist with a rescue team of 21 people and last night they replied ‘no thanks’,” said Korneliou.

He said the negotiator Menelaou, conveyed to the Special Representative of the Turkish Cypriot leader, Ergün Olgun, “our desire and readiness to assist in the rescue efforts”, but “we were told that they do not need our help”.

Turkish Cypriots have already been identified among the earthquake victims, while others are still missing.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said the offer of help was rejected “as the needs, at least at this stage, require the immediate deployment of heavy-duty specialised rescue teams.”

Nevertheless, a meeting on Wednesday will look at practical ways of supporting those affected in Turkey and Syria.

A search and rescue team of the Cyprus Civil Defence stands ready to travel to Turkey to assist following the earthquake that left behind thousands of dead and more under the rubble, Civil Defense Spokesperson Panayiotis Liasides told the Cyprus News Agency.

Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and has no official diplomatic ties with it.

The earthquake death toll in Turkey and Syria has risen to over 9,500.

Turkey’s disaster management authority raised the death toll from Monday’s quake to 7,108 people.

The combined total, with the 2,470 deaths recorded officially in Syria, has reached 9,578.

The numbers are expected to continue to rise as further rescue work and excavations are carried out.

Emergency services have been hampered by poor weather.