ISTANBUL — An Israeli plane carrying emergency housing led a flow of international into the quake-stricken area of eastern Turkey on Thursday as the death toll rose to at least 523.
The Disaster Crisis Center said rescuers had been able to extract 185 survivors from the rubble. Heavy machinery began moving into the stricken areas, suggesting that, with time reducing the likelihood of rescues, operations would begin shifting into cleanup and recovery.
Dozens of countries offered assistance almost immediately after Sunday’s earthquake, but the government initially declined, saying it had sufficient resources. But as the level of need for shelter and supplies has become more clear, the government began reaching out.
The Israeli plane delivered seven prefabricated houses and other supplies, NTV television reported, landing in Ankara, the capital, rather than a smaller airport nearer the hardest-hit area around the city of Van. Tents and more housing supplies arrived from Ukraine, France, and the United Nations. More supplies were expected from Japan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Ireland, England, and Russia.
The Foreign Ministry emphasized Turkey’s appreciation for the Israeli assistance but reiterated that humanitarian gestures during a natural disaster would not affect strained relations.
Turkey is demanding an official Israeli apology and compensation for the relatives of eight Turks and an American citizen of Turkish descent who were killed when Israeli commandos intercepted a Turkish aid flotilla attempting to break the blockade of Gaza last year.