Cyprus to send rescue team after Turkey accepts
By Nikolaos Prakas and Jonathan Shkurko
Two of the teachers with the dozens of Turkish Cypriot children were found dead on Wednesday night, while the others remained buried for a third day under the rubble of a devastating earthquake that killed thousands across southern Turkey and in Syria.
According to reports from the north, the teachers Pamir Konuklu and Ibrahim Yakula were pulled from the rubble in the night, while searches continued for the chidlren.
Meanwhile, a team from the Republic of Cyprus was heading to Turkey in the morning to help in rescue efforts, despite a political ploy in the north to discredit this fact.
So far, it is estimated that a 35-member group from a Famagusta secondary school in north is underneath the rubble of the hotel, which collapsed like a “house of cards” in the early hours of Monday morning.
Most of the Turkish Cypriots are secondary school students, who were in Adiyaman for a volleyball tournament. The group is stuck under the rubble of the Isias hotel.
Speaking about the Adiyaman quake, which trapped the Turkish Cypriot students under the hotel, one of the survivors Berna Tavis said that the hotel fell like “a house of cards”.
Commenting on the phone in a television show, Tanis said that she was rescued alone with the help of her friends. She had seen the children and had been told they were volleyball players, she added.
Tanis is a tour guide, just like Anil Zeybek, who was rescued during the night by the rescue crews who have been searching through the ruins of the hotel for three days to locate the Turkish Cypriot students and parents.
Meanwhile, the first funeral for one of the seven Turkish Cypriots reported dead so far, rescue worker Amac Arnavutoglu was held on Wednesday.
His funeral was held in northern Nicosia, and his coffin was carried by his colleagues, who placed carnations on top of his coffin.
Commenting about the rescue team that went from the state-controlled areas, the foreign ministry told the Cyprus Mail that the team left, after it was approved by Turkey earlier in the day.
However, the north promptly released a statement saying it was false information that a rescue team was leaving from the state-controlled areas.
This was quickly refuted to the Cyprus Mail by the foreign ministry, who said the team is leaving, and they are going to help “our Turkish Cypriot compatriots”.
Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Foreign Ministry spokesman Demetris Demetriou said: “Clear-cut humanitarian issues have no room for petty political gains.”
He added that the Cyprus team is leaving to help their Turkish Cypriot compatriots.
Ahead of this, the ‘foreign ministry’ in the north said in a statement that news a team would be leaving to help efforts for the earthquake were false.
They said: “Even by exploiting such a humanitarian issue, the Greek Cypriot side continues to manipulate politically in its favour.”
Earlier in the day, a tweet published by foreign ministry spokesperson Demetris Demetriou said Turkey’s decision to accept the aid was conveyed to Cyprus by the European Civil Protection Mechanism.
Moreover, Cyprus Airways will also contribute to the relief efforts in the areas affected by the earthquake by making its aircrafts available to governments, NGOs and organisations for the transport of goods, medicines, rescue teams and equipment.
“Cyprus Airways will make capacity available on its scheduled flights to Beirut and is willing to organise special relief flights to bring the necessary cargo to the areas that most need the support,” a statement released by the airline on Wednesday said.
It is also urged people wishing to send help to Turkey to email [email protected] with their requests.
At the same time, trade union PEO has started collecting goods and money for the victims of the earthquake.
The union said the most important goods for people affected in Turkey and Syria are basic necessities, such as blankets, winter clothes and shoes, dry food, personal hygiene items, baby food and diapers, as well as generic medicines.
Donations will be accepted at local PEO offices around Cyprus. The union also set up an account for people wishing to donate money.
The public can make a contribution using the IBAN CY480050011600011601G4415703 of Hellenic Bank.
Left-wing Akel also vowed to collect donations for the victims of the earthquake, a statement released by the party on Wednesday confirmed.
“In these difficult moments for our neighbours, we call on the Cypriot people to express their solidarity by making any effort to help the victims.”
Akel specifically asked for donations of blankets, shoes and clothes in good conditions, canned and baby milk, solar energy flashlights, family tents and medicines.
Items can be donated at Edon offices around Cyprus and money can be deposited on the IBAN CY480050011600011601G4415703 of Hellenic Bank.
Finally, the Nicosia municipality, in cooperation with the Pancyprian Volunteerism Coordinating Council (Psse) also opened two bank accounts accepting donations.
The first account is registered at Bank of Cyprus (account number: 357015667368), while the second one at Hellenic Bank (account number: 10511-137244-01).