Two Hellenic Air Force transport planes departed for Kerman airport in southeastern Iran on Saturday afternoon carrying 20 rescue unit personnel, two specially trained dogs as well as pharmaceuticals and other aid for the quake-ravaged residents of Bam.
According to latest wire service reports on Saturday, Iranian officials said the death toll in Bam, an ancient city some 200 kilometres from Kerman, could reach 40,000.
The first transport aircraft left from Thessaloniki with a 12member group, while a 17member rescue team from Athens and Patras departed from the Elefsina Airport. The Greek volunteers have with them an ambulance, a communications’ support vehicle, satellite phones and specially trained dogs able to locate and rescue people trapped under the rubble.
Athens will also send 250,000 euros for quake-striken residents of Bam, in SE Iran, the foreign ministry announced. The decision to send immediate aid was taken by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos. At the same time, Loverdos is in constant communication with Public Order Minister George Floridis and the General Secretariat for Civil Protection in order for an emergency and rescue team to be ready to depart for the quake-stricken area, in the event that the Iranian authorities request such assistance.
A severe tremor, measuring up to 6.7 on the Richter scale, rocked the Bam area just before dawn on Friday morning. Casualties are expected to reach the thousands.
In a subsequent telegram to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis expressed his condolences over the loss of life in the Bam region as well as the Greek peoples solidarity to Iran. He reiterated that Greece is at Tehrans disposal for the dispatch of rescue units or humanitarian aid.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis also conveyed his condolences to the Iranian president and people.
A delegation of the organization “Doctors of the World” also departed from Athens for the Iranian city of Bam to offer their services to the earthquake stricken population in the southeastern province of Iran that was “hit” by the devastating earthquake that left over 20,000 people dead and 30,000 injured. As it is mentioned in the statement issued by the organization, the Greek delegation of the “Doctors of the World” will provide medical aid to the injured and it will bring to the region medical-pharmaceutical supplies, tents and blankets.