100 hours after the devastating earthquake with death toll at 18,000+ Turkey refuses help from Cyprus

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The Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted this afternoon that Turkey denied their offer to send rescue crews as thousands of Turkish people run out of time as they freeze in the cold weather and difficult conditions under the rubble following Monday's earthquake. 

"Despite initial acceptance of our offer to assist in rescue efforts, Turkey has “kindly declined” Cyprus' offer to deploy a Search & Rescue team on the ground. Proud and grateful for our Civil Protection Rescuers, always ready to save lives everywhere. Offer still stands!" the tweet wrote.

See the tweet:

This is the latest update in a backwards and forwards of acceptance and rejection of Cypriot aid.

Ankara first 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 said on February 7 that as soon as the EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated, the Republic of Cyprus expressed its readiness to contribute to the mission of the rescue team.

"We got the answer from Turkey, 'Thank you but we won't take it'," he said. "There is the issue of non-recognition and it seems that in matters of natural disasters and human tragedies, the political position often prevails."

Demetris Demetriou, spokesperson of the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Twitter on February 8 that the offer from Nicosia has now been accepted by Turkey.

A 15-member Cypriot team of rescuers as well as a doctor and a paramedic had been on standby since Wednesday to travel to Turkey as part of the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism.

Turkey doesn’t recognise Cyprus as a state and has stationed thousands of troops in the island’s occupied north since 1974, when it invaded.

Non-governmental organisations, private citizens and other groups in the free territories of the Republic of Cyprus are organising a food, clothing and medicine collection drive for Turkey’s quake-hit areas.

Meanwhile, Greece sent thousands of tents, beds and blankets on Thursday to help the hundreds of thousands of people left homeless by deadly earthquakes in Turkey, in an act of solidarity with a neighbour that is a NATO ally but also a historic foe.

Greece plans to provide a total of 80 tonnes of assistance such as blankets, beds, tents and medical supplies, its civil protection ministry said. Commercial flights carrying boxes with part of the aid landed at the Turkish airport of Adana early on Thursday, with the operation expected to conclude by Friday.

"We have brought medicines, medical supplies and essentials to relieve a bit the pain of quake-afflicted people," said Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides, who escorted the aid to Adana. "It's time we all show our feelings of humanism."

The death toll in Turkey and Syria now stands at 21,719. According to officials and medics, 18,342 people have died in Turkey and 3,377 have died in Syria.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said 14 trucks carrying humanitarian aid crossed into northern Syria from Turkey on Friday.

“These convoys are carrying electric heaters, tents, blankets and other items to assist these people who have been displaced as a result of this catastrophic earthquake,” said spokesperson Paul Dillon, adding that the aid was bound for Idlib. 

It is also looking at opening a crossing into Syria’s opposition-held Idlib region, the official said.

Turkey and Syria broke off diplomatic ties after Assad responded with force to a 2011 uprising against his rule which spilled into a civil war and drove millions of Syrians to seek refuge in Turkey.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, backed jihadists and terrorists fighting to topple Assad and sent Turkish troops into northern Syria. But after nearly 12 years of conflict he has suggested the two leaders could meet, and their defence ministers held talks in December.

The Turkish official said a border crossing from Turkey’s Hatay province into the Syrian government-controlled part of the Mediterranean province of Latakia could be reopened. 

READ MORE: Turkey Earthquake: 10-day-old baby rescued after 90 hours trapped in the freezing cold!