At least 12 killed in Turkey quake


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The Independent Online

Riot police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse protesters angry at the state's relief efforts after the second earthquake in eastern Turkey in three weeks killed at least 12 people in the city of Van.

Rescue teams searched for survivors after the 5.7 magnitude tremor last night heaped misery on the predominantly Kurdish region where more than 600 people died following a major quake on 23 October.

"How can you fire pepper spray on people who have already suffered so much?" said Abdulrahim Kaplan, 32. He had gone to the crisis centre for a tent when police began firing tear gas, he said.

"Our people are freezing. We are sleeping outside - all seven of my family ... Some people take five tents, some 10 and others get nothing. This is wrong."

Thousands of families are living in makeshift camps with temperatures falling to freezing with the onset of winter. The government says there are enough tents for anyone who needs them.

About 200 demonstrators called for the resignation of the provincial governor in a rally close to two city centre hotels that collapsed during the latest quake.

"We are urging the earthquake survivors to lodge in the tent cities. We think it is safer and we have enough place for everybody who wants to stay at the tent city," Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay, told Reuters later.

"Preparations are underway for more tents," said the minister, who is overseeing relief operations and had visited the site of the collapsed hotels earlier.

Working through the night, searchers had rescued 28 people from the ruins of the hotels, Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Administration (AFAD) said in a statement.

Two of those brought out, including a 16-month-old toddler, were flown by air ambulance to a hospital in the capital Ankara.

Rescue workers pulled a Japanese woman from the rubble of the Bayram Hotel almost six hours after the quake but a Japanese doctor succumbed to his injuries, state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

The woman, Miyuki Konnai, was part of a rescue and relief team sent to Van from Japan after the first quake. She was found injured but conscious and could be seen talking to her rescuers as she was carried to an ambulance.

The slightly built 32-year-old woman told Reuters she had been too afraid to open her eyes when she lay trapped beneath the rubble.

"When I finally managed to open my left eye slowly, there was a ray of light I could see in what I thought was complete darkness. That light gave me a relief and gave me a hope to live. That was the light from the computer I had been using," said Konnai, speaking in hospital with slight scratches on her pale face.