Russia: Quake assistance to Turkey could be on ground "in hours"
Russian emergency response teams are on full standby and could reach Turkey's earthquake disaster zone in a matter of hours, said Sergei Shoigu, Russia's Minister of Emergency Situations.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday evening ordered search and rescue units to prepare to move at a moment's notice to Turkey's Van province, Shoigu said, in comments reported by the Interfax news agency.
"At the moment Turkish officials are saying they can handle the situation themselves, but if Turkey asks us for help we will provide it immediately," Shoigu said, DPA reported.
Russian quake assistance crews could be on the ground in six hours after Ankara's request to Moscow, he said.
Speaking to media during a visit to the Pacific coast city Vladivostok, Shoigu said that current Russian estimates of the death toll from a Sunday 7.2 magnitude temblor in Turkey's Van region were above reported counts of some 200 victims.
Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations, the government agency responsible for responding to natural and man-made disasters, has wide experience moving response teams to remote locations.
Recent foreign deployments of Russian teams to assist after major earchquakes include to Japan's Tohuku region in March and to China Sichuan province in 2008.