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Many feared dead in Turkish quake

Cries of panic and horror filled the air as a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Turkey, killing at least 138 people as buildings crumpled into rubble.

The death toll was expected to rise as rescuers sifted through the rubble and reached outlying villages.

Tens of thousands fled into the streets running, screaming or trying to reach relatives on mobile phones as apartment and office buildings cracked or collapsed.

As the full extent of the damage became clear, survivors dug in with shovels or even their bare hands, desperately trying to rescue the trapped and the injured.

"There are many people under the rubble," Veysel Keser, the mayor of the district of Celebibag, said. "People are in agony. We can hear their screams for help."

Celebibag is near the hardest-hit area: Ercis, an eastern city of 75,000 close to the Iranian border and on one of Turkey's most earthquake-prone zones. The bustling city of Van, about 55 miles south of Ercis, also sustained substantial damage. Roads in the area caved in.

Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at least 93 people were killed in Van, 45 others died in Ercis, and about 350 were injured. Several people were still trapped under rubble, he said, without citing any estimates.

Up to 80 buildings collapsed in Ercis, including a dormitory, and 10 buildings collapsed in Van, the Turkish Red Crescent said. The sheer number of collapsed buildings gave rise to fears that the death toll could rise substantially.

US scientists recorded over 100 aftershocks in eastern Turkey within 10 hours of the quake, including one with a magnitude of 6.0. Authorities advised people to stay away from damaged homes, warning they could collapse in the aftershocks.

Rescue efforts went deep into the night under generator-powered floodlights. Workers tied steel rods around large concrete slabs in Van, then lifted them with heavy machinery.

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