Turkey Red Crescent head resigns following controversy over quake tents
ANKARA (Reuters) - The head of the Turkish Red Crescent resigned on Friday, the relief association said, three months after controversy emerged over the selling of tents to a charity in the first days after devastating earthquakes in Turkey.
The magnitude 7.8 quake shook a huge area in southern Turkey in February, causing more than 54,000 deaths in Turkey and Syria.
People in the region complained of a slow response by authorities in the first days after the disaster, prompting criticism of the government.
President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday he had been "saddened" by the Red Crescent selling tents.
"Red Crescent cannot sell tents. They should correct this mistake immediately," he said during a meeting with young people that was pre-recorded and broadcast on Thursday.
The resigning chairman, Kerem Kinik, first said that he was aware of the sale and described it as legal, arguing that a subsidiary of the agency conducted sale. But he later denied being aware of the sale and said he would have prevented it if he knew beforehand.
The relief association said in its statement on Friday that it would hold an extraordinary convention following the resignation.
Red Crescent also stirred a public debate after it was revealed that it sold tents to another charity, AHBAP, in the first days after the earthquake instead of directly sending them to disaster zone.
(Reporting by Huseyin Hayatsever and Yesim Dikmen; Editing by Daren Butler and Alex Richardson)