Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Hunt goes on for quake survivors

Shocked people seen in the city center of Van after a powerful earthquake struck eastern Turkey Sunday Oct. 23, 2011 , collapsing some buildings and causing a number of deaths, an official said.
A woman trapped under debris after a powerful earthquake struck eastern Turkey is rescued (AP)
A man carries an injured child in the city of Van after a powerful earthquake struck eastern Turkey (AP)

Dozens of people remain trapped in mounds of concrete, twisted steel and debris after the earthquake that struck two Turkish cities.

At least 270 people died and a thousand more were seriously injured. Worst-hit was Ercis - an eastern city of 75,000 close to the Iranian border where about 80 multi-storey buildings collapsed.

Yalcin Akay was one of the lucky ones, dug out from a collapsed six-story building with a leg injury after he called a police emergency line on his mobile phone.

Three others, including two children, were also rescued from the same building in Ercis 20 hours after the quake struck.

Rescuers searched for the missing throughout the night under generator-powered floodlights as tearful families members waited by the mounds of debris. Cranes and other heavy equipment lifted slabs of concrete, allowing residents to dig for the missing with shovels.

Aid groups scrambled to set up tents, field hospitals and kitchens to help the thousands left homeless or those too afraid to re-enter their homes.

Over 100 aftershocks rocked the area morning, with three of them reaching 4.7 magnitude, after another 100 aftershocks reverberated on Sunday.

The bustling, larger city of Van, about 55 miles south of Ercis, also sustained substantial damage, but Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said search efforts there were winding down.

He expected the death toll in Ercis to rise, but not as much as initially feared. He said rescuers were searching for survivors in the ruins of 47 buildings - including a cafe where dozens could be trapped.

IAuthorities advised people to stay away from damaged homes, warning they could collapse in the aftershocks. Exhausted residents began sheltering in tents, some set up inside a sports stadium, after many spent the night outdoors lighting fires to keep warm. Others sought shelter with relatives in nearby villages.

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