EU ready to give Iran earthquake relief
BRUSSELS - The Associated Press
EPA PhotoThe European Union is prepared to offer humanitarian assistance to Iran after more than 300 people were killed in earthquakes there last weekend, an official said Tuesday.
David Sharrock, spokesman for the EU’s humanitarian aid and crisis response commission, said the EU has been closely monitoring the situation in Iran since twin quakes struck the northwest of the country on Saturday.
The quakes, with magnitudes of 6.4 and 6.3, killed 306 people, injured more than 3,000 and left tens of thousands homeless. Iran’s government said it has provided shelter for about 50,000 people who lost their homes during the quakes, which have been followed by scores of aftershocks.
Iran’s government and the Red Crescent initially rejected offers for international help, but on Tuesday the government changed its stance and said it would now welcome foreign aid - an indication that authorities are struggling to cope with the aftermath.
"The European Commission is therefore reviewing how it could provide support, notably to the Iranian Red Crescent Society, which is working in the disaster area," Sharrock said.
It was not immediately clear what such aid could entail. But in past natural disasters, the EU and member states have provided search-and-rescue teams, equipment for detecting people trapped in rubble, field hospitals and other medical assistance, as well as food, clean water and shelter.
EU officials stressed, however, that the 27-nation bloc would not relax sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program.