WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2011 – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today ordered U.S. European Command to provide humanitarian relief supplies to Turkey following last week’s devastating earthquake, Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, announced today.
The Pentagon and the State Department are coordinating the response to the Turkish government’s request in the wake of a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that rocked eastern Turkey’s Van province Oct. 23, he said.
Eucom has jumped into action to airlift blankets, cots, sleeping bags, hygiene kits and other relief supplies within the next 18 to 24 hours, Kirby said.
Kirby expressed condolences to the Turkish people as their government continues to work with local authorities and international relief agencies to cope with the quake’s aftereffects and provide for their needs. „And our ablest efforts will be expended in assisting in any way possible,“ he said.
The death toll in Turkey continues to mount, with more than 570 people reported dead and another 2,500 injured.
The earthquake struck just four days after terrorists launched early-morning attacks against Turkish outposts and police stations along the Iraqi border. The attacks, which killed at least 24 soldiers and injured 18 others, including a child, have been attributed to the Kurdistan Workers Party, NATO officials said.
As he condemned the attacks, President Barack Obama called Turkey „one of our closest and strongest allies.“
Turkey has been a NATO member since 1952.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)