World offers condolences to Turkey over Soma mine blast

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Governments around the world as well as Pope Francis have extended their condolences to Turkey after an explosion and fire at a coal mine in western Turkey’s district of Soma killed hundreds, making it one of the deadliest mining disasters in the country’s history.

Countries including the US, Russia, Iran and Qatar, as well as Israel and Greek Cyprus, with which Turkey has no diplomatic ties, have extended their condolences over the accident that killed at least 238 people. Israel and Iran have announced that they are ready to offer help to Turkey if needed, while the Israeli Embassy also canceled a National Day reception slated for Wednesday evening due to the accident. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) announced two days of mourning over the tragedy.

“At times of tragedy we must all do what we can to help one another and we have offered Turkey whatever assistance you require at this time,” Israeli President Shimon Peres said in a letter addressed to his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul.

German President Joachim Gauck, who was harshly criticized by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan for his remarks about media freedom and other rights made during a recent visit, also joined those who offered sympathy to Turkey for the disaster. German Foreign Minister Walter Steinmeier said his country was ready to provide assistance to help deal with the disaster, too.

Pope Francis made an appeal for prayers for the miners who lost their lives in the accident at his general audience on Wednesday. “May the Lord receive the deceased in his house and give comfort to their families,” Vatican Radio quoted the pope as saying. The European Union and several European countries, including Britain, Greece and Spain, also extended condolences. The British Embassy lowered the British flag half-mast to commemorate the dead while the Norwegian Embassy canceled a planned reception to be held on Thursday.

“I extend our deep condolences to the families and relatives of those who lost their lives on behalf of the American nation. I wish a quick recovery to the injured people. We wish for the rescue of the trapped miners,” US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone said, adding that the thoughts and hearts of the US are with the Turkish nation.

President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and the head of the EU Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, also offered condolences to Turkey. “On behalf of the European Union, I wish to express my sincere condolences and deep sympathy to the Turkish government and to all those affected by the tragic mine accident in Soma. My thoughts are with the victims and their families, and with the rescue workers fighting hard to save lives,” said Van Rompuy in a written statement, adding, “The European Union stands ready to assist Turkey in any way it may require in this difficult moment.”

Barroso said on his Twitter account that he is deeply shocked about the accident and sent his sincere condolences on behalf of the European Commission.

Cecilia Malmstrm, member of the European Commission in charge of home affairs, and Stefan Fule, the EU commissioner for enlargement, and Hannes Swoboda, the president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats of the European Parliament, offered their sympathy to Turkey and relatives of miners killed in the blast.

Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) President Anne Brasseur said in separate statements that they are shocked by the catastrophic incident in Turkey. “We at the Council of Europe are thinking of our Turkish friends today and share in your mourning,” Jagland said in a statement last night. Jagland also sent a letter to ErdoIan and expressed the Council of Europe’s condolences to the relatives of dead miners and the whole Turkish nation.

Spain also sent its support to the Turkish government and nation. “The Spanish government conveys its condolences and expresses its support to the Turkish nation and Turkish officials on behalf of the Spanish people,” a statement released by Spanish Embassy in Ankara said.

Messages to Turkish leaders

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to President Gul and Prime Minister ErdoIan over the deadly accident. “The president passed on his words of sympathy to the victims’ families and wished the injured a speedy recovery,” the statement released by his office said.

Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev also sent letters of sympathy to President Gul and Prime Minister ErdoIan, conveying Azerbaijanis’ condolences to relatives and families of victims and wished recovery for those injured. Azerbaijan shares the pain of Turkey, he said in the message.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheik Hasina sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart, ErdoIan, conveying Bangladesh’s prayers, sympathies and deep condolences to the Turkish people and the government.

Arab leaders, including Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Sani, Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa also sent messages of sympathy and support to Gul and ErdoIan.


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