Israel offers Turkey search-and-rescue assistance in mine tragedy

Countries around the world offer condolences to Turkish government after mine explosion and fire claims over 200 lives.

Soma, Turkey (Google Maps)

Soma, Turkey (Google Maps)

Israel has offered Turkey assistance with search and rescue efforts at the Soma coal mine explosion site. “We offer any assistance that Turkey might need,” an Israeli official from the Embassy told the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News.

According to the report, the offer was conveyed by the Israeli embassy in Ankara to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

The Israeli Magen David Adom medical emergency response service also offered Turkey’s Red Crescent team assistance in freeing hundreds of miners still trapped underground in the Soma coal mine. The coal-mine explosion in Western Turkey on Tuesday has reportedly killed at least 205 workers and is already being called the nation’s worst mining accident in more than two decades.

There were 787 miners underground when a transformer exploded and a subsequent fire broke out, Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz told reporters at the scene. Yildiz told Reuters the accident is likely to be the country’s worst mining disaster ever.

“Regarding the rescue operation, I can say that our hopes are diminishing,” Yildiz told reporters.

Turkey did not request Israel’s assistance with rescue and medical efforts but the embassy in Ankara and MDA offered to help just the same.

The Israeli embassy in Ankara, which changed its Facebook profile picture to that of the black ribbon being identified with the loss of life at the Soma mine, also issued a statement offering their condolences to the Turkish people.

“The State and people of Israel share the grief of the Turkish people, pay condolences to the families of the deceased, wish speedy recovery for the wounded and hope for positive news from the ones still in the mine,” the embassy said in a statement.

The Israeli embassy in Ankara also called off a planned Independence Day reception scheduled for tonight (May 14). “Due to the grave accident in the coal mine in Soma, Manisa, the reception on the occasion of the 66th Independence Day of the State of Israel planned to be held tonight (14 May 2014) has been cancelled,” the embassy said in a statement.

Meanwhile, countries around the world sent messages of condolences.

“I wish to express my sincere condolences and deep sympathy to the Turkish Government and to all those affected by the tragic mine accident in Soma,” EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in a statement on behalf of the EU.

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.