Devastation in Turkey after second quake


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The Independent Online

At least three people were killed and dozens left trapped after an earthquake struck eastern Turkey last night, less than three weeks after another quake killed 600 in the same area.

About two-dozen buildings collapsed in the provincial capital of Van following a 5.7-magnitude quake, though most of them were empty or had been declared unfit because they were weakened by the earlier earthquake, according to media reports.

In a grim replay of scenes from last month's earthquake in the same region, men climbed on to piles of debris and frantically clawed at twisted steel and crumbled concrete in an attempt to find survivors.

Voices could be heard calling for help from under the debris, and at least 13 people were pulled alive from the rubble in early rescue efforts, according to Turkish media.

Rescue workers used the glare of high-powered lights to work through the night.

There were several aftershocks. A small fire broke out at a hospital but all patients were safely evacuated.

One of the buildings that collapsed was the Bayram Hotel, Van's oldest and best-known hotel. It was built in the 1970s and renovated last year.

Some of the guests were journalists who were covering the aftermath of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake on 23 October, which left thousands homeless and led a number of countries to send tents, blankets and other supplies to assist Turkey in the aid effort.

Ozgur Gunes, a cameraman for Turkey's Cihan news agency, told the Haber Turk television channel that some trapped journalists had sent text messages to colleagues asking to be rescued.

He had left the hotel before the earthquake, but rushed back to collect his camera after it struck, only to find that the building toppled.

"There was dust everywhere and the hotel was flattened," he said. He told Sky Turk television that the building had some small cracks before the earthquake, but that he and other guests were told that there was no structural damage.

State-run TRT television said at least three bodies were recovered and, citing a hotel worker, reported that between 35 and 40 people were believed to be trapped in the rubble of the Bayram Hotel.