Turkey has refused the offer by the Republic of Cyprus to send a rescue team to help with post-earthquake efforts, according to the Director General of the Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kornelios S. Korneliou.
Speaking on the Sigma Mesimeri and Kati Show, Korneliou also spoke about Cypriots who are in Turkey, specifically about the case of students who are seemingly trapped in the hotel where they were staying.
"Two Turkish-Cypriots are not answering. The crisis management department continues to try and trace the fate of other Cypriots who are in Turkey but we have no other indication," Korneliou said. "A mother contacted us whose daughter happened to be in Turkey and is in very good health."
"As far as the volleyball team is concerned, we don't have any updates yet. The occupying regime exclusively handles the issue of people who have moved to Turkey. There are currently 35 missing persons. Four have been found alive."
Korneliou said that as soon as the EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated, the Republic of Cyprus expressed readiness to contribute with the mission of the rescue team: "We got the answer from Turkey, 'Thank you but we won't take it'."
"There is the issue of non-recognition and it seems that in matters of natural disasters and human tragedies the political position often prevails," he said.
In a statement issued by the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, the government expressed its “deep sadness for the numerous victims of the earthquakes.”
“We express our sincere condolences to the families of the victims,” the statement said. “Natural disasters do not distinguish people and nationalities.
“We stand in solidarity with all those suffering and the families of the victims and we are ready to contribute to the humanitarian efforts of the international community.”
Greek Cypriot officials said they were willing to help rescue efforts in the devastated areas.
The 7.8-magnitude quake was felt across Cyprus, which lies around 40 miles of Turkey’s southern coast. Residents in Nicosia, the island’s divided capital, described how they were jolted awake when it struck at 3:17 AM.
Thousands of homes have been destroyed in areas affected by an earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, UNICEF spokesperson James Elder said at a press briefing in Geneva Tuesday.
“Thousands of homes have been destroyed, displacing families and exposing them to the elements at a time of year when temperatures regularly drop below freezing and snow and freezing rain are common,” Elder said. “Scores of schools, hospitals and other medical and educational facilities have been damaged or destroyed by the quakes.”
“This is the most powerful earthquake to hit the region in almost 100 years and came at the worst possible time for vulnerable children and families in the affected areas,” he added.
Elder also pointed that the most vulnerable are Syrian refugee families living in informal settlements and displaced families in northwest Syria who are also grappling with an ongoing cholera outbreak and heavy rain and snow.
The UN’s cross-border aid into Syria has been temporarily disrupted following the damage caused by Monday’s powerful earthquake, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) told CNN Tuesday.
The UN’s aid assistance has been “temporarily disrupted due to road challenges – particularly the road from Gaziantep to our Transshipment Hub in Hatay," said Madevi Sun-Suon, OCHA spokesperson.
“We are exploring all avenues to reach people in need and conducting assessments on feasibility. We do have aid but this road issue is a big challenge as of now,” the spokesperson added.
Around 4.1 million people rely on humanitarian assistance in the region of northwest Syria rocked by the quake, the majority of whom are women and children, according to an OCHA statement on Monday.
READ MORE: How to provide humanitarian aid in Athens for the earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria.