YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Authorities in Armenia appear to have canceled the planned dispatch of a search and rescue team to Haiti for unknown reasons.
A senior official at the Armenian Rescue Service, Nikolay Grigorian, told RFE/RL on Thursday that the 52-strong team is poised to head to the Caribbean nation devastated by a catastrophic earthquake. He said it will fly to Port-au-Prince via Moscow on a plane belonging Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations.
The Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations, to which the Rescue Service is subordinated, declined to confirm the information in the following days. A source close to the ministry said on Monday that the Armenian rescuers have not left for Haiti after all.
The ministry spokeswoman, Susanna Abrahamian, told RFE/RL on Tuesday that the team remains “on high alert” and prepared to start the mission “at any moment.” “We are in close contact on that issue with international organizations and, in particular, the United Nations,” she said without elaboration.
Abrahamian declined to explain why the rescuers have not been able to join the international relief effort in Haiti, referring all inquiries to the Armenian government and Foreign Ministry.