Turkey has not yet responded to Israel’s offer of assistance following an explosion on Wednesday at a coal mine that claimed more than 230 lives.
An explosion, which occurred on Wednesday in the Turkish mining town of Soma, located some 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Istanbul, caused a pit to collapse. Scores of coal miners are still missing, according to the latest reports.
Magen David Adom, Israel’s medical emergency response service, immediately offered to help but as yet received no response to the overture.
Frantic relatives are desperate for information, not knowing whether their loved ones are still caught in the burning pit or being treated at local hospitals. An improvised morgue was set up near the scene of the explosion.
It was Turkey’s worst industrial disaster in two decades.
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said 787 people had been inside the mine when an electrical fault triggered the blast, adding that hopes of finding more survivors were fading, according to BBC.
“The death toll is rising towards a point that we had feared,” Yildiz stated. “Time is running out.”
“The electrical fault triggered a power cut, making the mine cages unusable. Those trapped are reported to be 2 km (1.2 miles) below the surface and 4 km from the mine entrance,” BBC reports.
Magen David Adom Offers Medical Equipment and Personnel
Turkey has not officially requested help from the Jewish State; neither has it responded to the offer made by Magen David Adom to Turkey’s Red Crescent.
A Magen David Adom spokesperson said Israel could provide valuable assistance with medical equipment and expertise as well as rescue workers
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared three days of national mourning and ordered flags to be lowered to half-mast. He also postponed a visit to Albania.
The Israeli embassy in Ankara, the Turkish capital, canceled an Independence Day reception scheduled for Wednesday evening.
“Due to the grave accident in the coal mine in Soma, [in the province of Manisa], the reception on the occasion of the 66th Independence Day of the State of Israel planned to be held tonight has been cancelled,” the embassy said in a statement.
“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.”
Israel and Magen David Adom had also offered to help Turkey in 2011 after a devastating earthquake, which killed 604 and injured more than 4,000.
Netanyahu Sends Letter of Sympathy from Holy Land
In 2013, Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to renew relations after a three-year deadlock since the Mavi Marmara incident of 2011, when the Israeli navy raided a Turkish flotilla illegally bound for the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the deaths of nine anti-Israel activists. Since then, the Turkish leader demanded that Israel lift the blockade on Gaza, and normalization has not been achieved.
Netanyahu sent a condolence letter to Erdogan, saying that the People of Israel “are all shocked at the loss of life of innocent people at work and our thoughts are with the people of Turkey.
“At times of tragedy we must all do what we can to help one another and we have offered Turkey whatever assistance you require at this time. From the Holy Land the people of Israel pray for the victims, their families, for the rescue of those still trapped and the full recovery of the injured.”
Written by: Atara Beck
Staff Writer/Editor, United with Israel