IRNA (Iran), ABC NEWSNEW YORK TIMESASSOCIATED PRESS (USA), AL JAZEERA (Qatar), XINHUA (China)

Worldcrunch

TEHRAN - In an apparent change of heart, Iran says foreign aid is now welcome following the twin earthquakes that hit the north western part of the country last weekend, reports ABC news.

On Monday, a Turkish rescue team had been sent back to Turkey, as Iran's Red Crescent initially said that the country did not need foreign assistance and could handle the disaster itself.

“Our country has in various occasions rushed to assist the victims of natural disaster victims in different countries, and now we are ready to receive the contributions of different countries to quake victims in Ahar, Varzaqan and Haris townships” said Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi in a press conference in Tabriz on Tuesday, reports Iranian state agency IRNA.

A number of countries have offered their condolences to Iran after the deadly earthquakes notes IRNA, including Turkey, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Pope Benedict XVI also voiced their sympathy. The Swiss government announced its readiness to provide humanitarian aid to the quake-stricken people, adds the Iranian news agency.

The first humanitarian supplies have already been dispatched by the Republic of Azerbaijan. The aid includes flour, rice, sugar, cooking oil and pasta, as well as blankets and tents, according to IRNA.

Yet the current financial sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran have raised worries among Iranian-Americans about where to send donations — and whether such aid is even legal, reports The New York Times.

 

A 6.2 earthquake on the Richter scale hit the city of Ahar at 4:53 p.m. on Saturday, and a 6 magnitude quake struck the city of Varzaqan only 11 minutes later -- followed by multiple aftershocks.

At least 306 people have been killed and over 3037 others injured, according to the ministry of health, reports Xinhua.