§ 3.7 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made any offer of relief to the Persian Government for sufferers in the areas recently devastated by the earthquake in that country.]
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF GOSFORD)
My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have learned with great sorrow of the tragic loss of life and the destruction caused by the series of earthquakes which began in Northern Iran on July 2. I know that the House will wish to join me in expressing our deepest sympathy with our Iranian friends and allies in their misfortune. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister sent a message of sympathy to the Iranian Prime Minister on July 3, as soon as the first accounts of the extent of the devastation reached this country, and the Foreign Secretary sent a message to the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
An offer of material help has had to await reliable reports of the needs of the stricken areas. These reports of necessity, took some time to reach Teheran. They indicate that the greatest need is for tents to protect the homeless, and also for doctors to tend the injured. Her Majesty's Government have therefore offered to help the Iranian Government in 922 meeting these two requirements. In particular, they have offered to send to Teheran at once the Director of Medical Services from G.H.Q., Middle East Land Forces, to investigate the possibility of an Army surgical team being flown from Cyprus to Iran. The aircraft taking him to Teheran will also contain a full load of tents. The Iranian Government have gratefully accepted both offers, and I hope that the officer concerned and the tents will be reaching Teheran within the next 24 hours. If this officer's report shows that an Army surgical team could operate effectively in the earthquake area, and the Iranian Government agree, the team will be despatched to Teheran at once by air.
§ LORD TEVIOT
My Lords, I beg to thank my noble friend for that very satisfactory Answer to my Question. I should like to bring to his notice something which appeared in the Press to-day. Apparently, other tremors have started within the last twenty-four hours. I hope that that fact has not been overlooked.