Disaster and Emergency Management Authority flight carrying search-and-rescue team, supplies dispatched to Sulaymaniyah
A military cargo plane carrying aid and a search-and-rescue team left Ankara for northern Iraq on Monday to help earthquake victims in the region.
The Airbus A400M Atlas aircraft took off from Etimesgut air base at 9.24 a.m. local time (0624GMT) carrying a 20-strong search team and another medical team of 10 from the Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), two vehicles, 60 tents, 320 blankets and medical supplies.
AFAD President Mehmet Gulluoglu said the flight would attempt to land at Sulaymaniyah International Airport.
Another 10-strong search-and-rescue team was dispatched by road, he added in a statement.
Turkey’s aid efforts are being coordinated with the central government in Baghdad and the Iraqi Red Crescent.
According to AFAD's Twitter account, 5,000 tents, 7,000 blankets, 92 personnel and 11 vehicles were dispatched to northern Iraq immediately after the earthquake.
The Turkish Red Crescent was the first international aid agency to arrive in the quake-hit parts of northern Iraq, the agency said.
A total of 17 truck loads of supplies were sent to northern Iraq Monday, according to Turkish Red Crescent Eastern Anatolia Region Disaster Center.
IHH joins relief efforts
Turkish Red Crescent head Kerem Kinik told Anadolu Agency 33 trucks were dispatched to Iraq last night comprising "3,000 tents, 3,000 heaters, 10,000 blankets and 10,000 bed and food supplies".
Turkish aid staff arrived within hours of the quake in the most-affected area of Derbendihan district, where a number of buildings were destroyed and tens of houses damaged.
Aid packets were also delivered to affected families.
"As the first aid agency to have arrived here, we have started assessing the cost of damage.
"We are talking to people. We will distribute food packages and blankets,” Oguzhan Demir from the Turkish Red Crescent’s logistics and operation unit told Anadolu Agency.
In a statement, IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation official Behcet Atilla said his team of 50 people reached Habur border gate to help quake-victims in Iraq. Atilla on Monday said volunteers from Turkey's Sirnak, Adiyaman, Elazig and Sanliurfa province were in northern Iraq to help with search and rescue.
IHH Search-and-Rescue Coordinator Emre Yerli in a separate statement said an additional 30-men strong professional emergency team of volunteers was dispatched to Iraq on Monday.
He added that two-truck loads of supplies including tents, blankets and food were also sent to quake-victims in Iraq.
Resident Taha Salih Muhammed, whose two-storey house was destroyed, said: “We panicked. Thank god, we do not have any casualities.
“Just seconds after we left the house, it collapsed. Right now I am staying with my family at our neighbors’ place.”
Turkey’s eastern Van province also sent aid to affected families in northern Iraq. A total of 26 search-and-rescue personnel, five vehicles and a rescue dog were sent to the region, Van’s Provincial Disaster and Emergency Director Osman Ucar said.
Ucar added that a plane carrying aid was also being prepared.
Another two lorries loaded with aid were dispatched from southern Turkey’s Kilis province, according to a spokesman for the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation’s Kilis coordination center.
The lorries were loaded with 150 tents and more than 1,000 blankets as well as food, including five tonnes of rice, 1,500 liters of oil, nearly 10,000 cans of fish and five tonnes of lentils, Yakup Alaca said.
Hundreds were killed in the earthquake that struck 32 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of the city of Halabja, near the Iranian border, at 9.18 p.m. local time (1818GMT).
Iraqi Interior Ministry said seven people were killed and hundreds injured in northern Iraq.
* Yunus Keles in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, Cemal Asan in Van and Izzet Mazi in Kilis contributed to this report.