Europe Offers Help to Asian Quake Victims | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 09.10.2005
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Europe Offers Help to Asian Quake Victims

Germany and other European countries responded swiftly to Saturday's massive earthquake which hit Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, offering aid and funds as well as condolences.


At least 1,800 people died as a result of the earthquake

In Berlin, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Germany has immediately released 50,000 euros ($60,500) to be made available to Pakistani authorities through Berlin's embassy in Islamabad.

The German Red Cross will be working with the Pakistani Red Crescent to bring relief to affected areas, and Berlin is in contact with the United Nations with regard to further humanitarian action, he said.

Fischer added that German officials were also in touch with counterparts in Pakistan and India to discuss rapid aid.

German aid organizations meanwhile called for donations. Catholic aid organization Caritas said its workers had begun rescuing victims while other groups were ready to dispatch teams to the region.

EU offers millio n s

As casualty figures rose from the devastating quake the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said up to three million euros ($3.6 million) could be approved within a day if requested by agencies working on the ground.

Freies Bildformat: Erdbeben: Eingesperrt

Residents are seen trapped after a housing complex collapsed by a severe earthquake that jolted Islamabad, Pakistan.

"We are all hoping that the news does not get steadily worse as the day progresses but we are fearful that the casualty figures may mount and that international support may be needed," said EU aid commissioner Louis Michel.

A spokesman said the commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) was in touch with two organizations -- Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Netherlands and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) -- about the crisis.

"It depends on what these organizations tell us they need," said the spokesman, Amadeu Altafaj, stressing that the two organizations were chosen because they are already on the ground.

"They can save more lives and faster," he said. "This is the priority, of course."

"Ready to provide every help"

Turkey, a frequent victim of earthquakes which have killed many thousands of people, also offered aid to fellow Muslim country Pakistan, Anatolia news agency reported, quoting Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül.

Freies Bildformat: Erdbeben Kaschmir - Verstörte Anwohner

Kashmiri Muslims pray as they took shelter in an open school ground.

"We are ready to provide every sort of help," Gül said, adding that Ankara had a "duty" to do so.

Turkey's neighbour Greece, which also suffers almost daily tremors, said it was ready to send a team of specialists to the region.

Expressing sympathy and solidarity, the foreign ministry said "Greece intends to contribute to the efforts of search and rescue."

More tha n 18,000 dead

Elsewhere, French President Jacques Chirac sent a message of support to his Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf, his office said.

"France is standing by Pakistan in this painful trial," Chirac added, without specifying any offer of assistance.

Freies Bildformat: Erdbeben: Islamabad

Rescue workers and police officers gather at a collapsed housing complex.

Musharraf received a similar message from Russia's President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said.

More than 18,000 have been confirmed dead in the quake, and officials warned the final toll could be far higher as rescue efforts continue..

The earthquake, measuring at least 7.6 on the Richter scale, was centered in Kashmir, the Himalayan territory disputed between Indian and Pakistan.

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