U.N. says Turkey likely best to send rescue teams to Afghanistan

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The United Nations headquarters building is pictured though a window with the UN logo in the foreground in the Manhattan borough of New York August 15, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

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UNITED NATIONS, June 22 (Reuters) - The United Nations does not have search and rescue capabilities in Afghanistan and Turkey is "best positioned" to provide it following a deadly earthquake in Afghanistan on Wednesday, a senior U.N. aid official said.

"We spoke about it with the embassy of Turkey here on the ground and they're waiting for the formal request," said deputy U.N. envoy in Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov. "We will be able to make such request only after the discussion with the de-facto authorities and based on what is the reality on the ground."

The death toll from an earthquake in Afghanistan hit 1,000, disaster management officials said, with more than 600 injured and the toll expected to grow as information trickles in from remote mountain villages. read more

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Alakbarov - speaking from Kabul - said that while the Taliban had not yet formally requested help from international search and rescue teams, the United Nations had already sounded out countries in the region to see "if they would be willing and available to deploy such capacity."

"Our teams do not have specific equipment to take people from under the rubble. This has to rely mostly on the efforts of the de-facto authorities, which also has certain limitations in that respect," he said.

Alakbarov said it was unclear how well positioned the Taliban were to operate and deploy their to the mountainous areas hit by the earthquake.

The United Nations has shipped about 10 tonnes of essential medical supplies to the region and deployed 20 medical health teams, he said, adding that a rapid assessment of the situation is being conducted and at least $15 million is required immediately - a figure that will likely rise in coming days.

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Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chris Gallagher and David Gregorio

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