After initially rejecting foreign aid, the Iranian government stated on Monday that it would welcome foreign aid for victims of two earthquakes that killed 306 people.
Iran’s Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi was quoted by state-run IRNA news agency as saying, “our country has in various occasions rushed to assist the victims of natural disaster victims in different countries, and now we are ready for receiving the contributions of different countries to quake victims in Ahar, Varzaqan, and Haris townships.”
Many countries have extended sympathies to the victims of the twin quakes and have offered aid to the relief efforts. It was initially unclear how governments and individuals would offer aid to a government facing massive sanctions from the United States and European Union.
US State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters on Monday that, “we have said that we stand ready to provide assistance.” She went on to say, “Americans wishing to provide humanitarian assistance to Iranians during this time may donate food and medicine without obtaining an Iranian transactions regulations license,” effectively indicating that the US would permit private citizens to contribute to the relief effort.
According to AFP, the Bush administration permitted relief organisations to provide relief assistance to victims in Iran following the 2003 earthquake in Bam that killed roughly 31,000 people.
The governments of Russia, Japan, Switzerland, and Turkey among others have expressed condolences to the tragedy and have voiced willingness to donate and assist earthquake victims in the relief effort.
The two earthquakes with magnitudes of 6.3 and 6.4 struck Iran on Saturday, killing 306 and injuring between 2,500 and 3,000. The death toll is not final, as workers continue to recover bodies from the wreckage. The region surrounding the town of Tabriz was devastated, killing hundreds and entire towns and infrastructure damaged.