Russia sending aid to Iran after quakes, but Tehran says rescuers not needed

Russia scrapped plans Saturday to send rescuers and medical workers to Iran, following deadly earthquakes, after Tehran said they were not needed, an emergency official said.

Moscow still will send blankets and other humanitarian aid, Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said.

A plane carrying rescuers had been expected to depart from an airfield near Moscow in the morning, but the flight was called off after Iran said it could handle rescue efforts on its own, Beltsov said.

However, Tehran welcomed an offer of aid, and the ministry said a plane left a Moscow-area airfield later Saturday carrying 4,000 blankets, 100 large tents and a number of electric heaters a total of 29 tons of equipment.

Russia has close political and economic ties with Iran but has criticized Tehran's uncooperative response to international efforts to ensure it is not using its nuclear energy program in which Moscow is heavily involved to develop nuclear weapons, reports AP.

According to Forbes, aid workers responding to a series of powerful earthquakes in western Iran have passed out 15,000 tents to the thousands of people who lost their homes, an official said Saturday. Even the residents whose homes were spared slept outside, fearful that more tremors would hit.

Provincial governor Mohammad Reza Mohseni, announcing the end of rescue and recovery operations, said relief workers have begun clearing debris and setting up shelter for people left homeless by the quakes late Thursday and Friday.

"Rescue operations are over. The death toll will not increase nor will the figure for the injured," Mohseni told state-run television Saturday.

Fearing new tremors, survivors spent a cold night outdoors. The series of at least a dozen quakes - including a 6.1-magnitude temblor - killed 70 people, injured 1,200 and left thousands homeless.


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