Armenia Offers Aid to Quake Stricken Azerbaijan

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A senior Armenian official said Monday that Yerevan has offered its assistance to the authorities in Azerbaijan in coping with the effects of the weekend earthquake which reportedly killed at least 26 people.

Sergei Balasanian–the chief of the National Seismic Defense Service–said the Armenian government is ready to provide "all kinds of aid" to the victims of the disaster. Balasanian told reporters that the offer was made immediately after the quake measuring up to 6.5 on the Richter scale hit the Azerbaijani capital late Saturday but there has been no official response from Baku yet.

Tremors were also felt in Iran–Armenia–Georgia and the Russian republic of Daghestan. In the southeastern Armenian city of Kapan the quake registered over 3 on the Richter scale. Armenia and Azerbaijan–locked in a bitter dispute over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region–have no diplomatic relations.

The seismic situation in the South Caucasus and surrounding areas was discussed by seismologists from regional states–including Azerbaijan–at a five-day seminar in Yerevan which finished its work on November 13. Balasanian said participants issued an appeal to the regional governmen’s warning them of "high seismic activity in the region" and urging them "to pay serious attention to this fact." Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev blasted his country’s seismological service for its failure to predict the disaster. But Balasanian argued that preventive measures–the most effective way of dealing with earthquakes–are stymied by the absence of bilateral agreemen’s on the exchange of relevant information between neighboring states.

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