Israel offered help to Turkey on Wednesday in its hunt for scores of miners trapped after a deadly pit explosion in the west of the country. Ankara thanked Israel for the offer, and said it would notify the Foreign Ministry if it can be of assistance in any way.
President Shimon Peres, on a visit to Norway, sent his condolences to his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul.
“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,” Peres said in the letter.
“Israel expresses its deepest condolences to the government and people of Turkey following the tragic mine disaster in Soma,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Israel has offered the Turkish government any assistance it requires. The people of Israel pray for the missing miners and the quick recovery of the wounded. As a sign of solidarity with the people of Turkey, the Israeli Embassy canceled its Independence Day reception scheduled for today.”
“Immediately after the catastrophe in Turkey, we sent our offer of help to the Turkish Red Crescent, and Magen David Adom teams are ready to deploy as soon as they receive the authorization,” the head of Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross, Eli Bin, said in a statement.
An electrical fault set off a huge explosion in the coal mine in the Manisa province town of Soma on Tuesday, killing at least 274 people.
The mine’s operator said on Wednesday that close to 450 of its staff had been rescued. But hopes were fading for an estimated 150 miners still believed to be trapped.
Relations between Israel and Turkey have been strained since a 2010 Israeli commando raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla of aid ships left nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists dead.
The Times of Israel learned Wednesday that a deal to end the four-year-old feud between Turkey and Israel is imminent and could be signed as soon as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returns from his trip to Japan.