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Turkey Declines Elon Musk's Offer of Starlink after Earthquake

Mon 06 Feb 2023 | 08:17 PM
Israa Farhan

Turkey has rejected Elon Musk's offer to activate Starlink, a SpaceX satellite internet service, in the country after it was hit by a deadly earthquake, according to Bloomberg on Monday.

"Starlink is not approved by the Turkish government yet," Musk tweeted late Sunday. "SpaceX can send as soon as approved."

Musk was responding to a Twitter user who said there were "severe communication shortages" in Turkey after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the country's southeast near the Syrian border, killing hundreds of people.

Bloomberg quoted an anonymous senior Turkish official as saying they were grateful for Musk's offer. However, Turkey has enough satellite capacity, and its base stations run on battery power.

SpaceX and the Turkish Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

Twitter users circulated videos and posts about power outages in Turkey after the earthquake, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday killed more than 900 people and injured more than 5,300, according to Anadolu Agency, Turkey's state news service.

Omer Fatih Sayan, the Turkish Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, tweeted on Monday that it was important that the communications infrastructure in the quake-hit areas not be disrupted.

He added that meetings were held frequently to see how communication breakdowns could be avoided.

This is not the first time Musk has offered to help countries in crisis.

The billionaire activated Starlink in Ukraine after invading Russia in February 2022, at the behest of Mykhailo Fedorov, the country's deputy prime minister.

SpaceX has sent thousands of Starlink internet dishes to Ukraine and its forces.

In September, Musk mentioned that SpaceX planned to activate Starlink in Iran due to an internet outage during protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody.