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Earthquake in Turkey

A powerful earthquake rattled eastern Turkey on 23 October. More than 600 people died and 4 152 were injured. The authorities, Red Crescent and Turkish volunteers have worked tirelessly to save hundreds trapped by the debris, but with thousands left homeless by the destruction, Turkey asked Europe to join the relief operation and help shelter the survivors.

A boy runs as another one looks at clothes while homeless survivors queue to receive aid in Ercis on October 27, 2011 © BELGA/AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN

Immediately after the earthquake, the European Commission informed the Turkish authorities of its readiness to coordinate European assistance. The Commission's emergency response centre has been monitoring the seismic activity and the humanitarian situation from the first alert.

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On 26 October, Turkey asked for family-type tents and pre-fabricated housing to shelter those made homeless by the disaster. At night, the temperature in the area affected can fall to zero, so the tents need to be suitable for cold weather. The Commission conveyed the needs to the 31 European countries which participate in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Several countries reacted immediately, offering thousands of tents.

More countries joined the European response in the following hours. Some 5 850 tents have been provided by 17 EU Member States. The tents have been sent to the disaster area where they are providing shelter for 22 500 people. The swift provision of the assistance is being coordinated through the Commission's emergency response centre.

Part of the air transport cost to deliver the assistance will be co-financed by the European Commission, which has also made available €4 million (from the Instrument for pre-Accession (IPA)) for the Turkish Red Crescent to install 1 200 pre-fabricated houses. Several EU Member States have also provided donations to the Turkish authorities directly.

The Commission has sent a European civil protection team to the disaster site. The six experts are coordinating the delivery of Europe's emergency assistance on the ground.