Turkish earthquake death toll continues to rise

 

Rescuers clawed through rubble today to free people trapped by a powerful earthquake that killed at least 264 people and wounded more than 1,000 in mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey.

Hundreds more were feared dead, as Turkey's most powerful quake in a decade toppled remote villages of mud brick houses.

 

As some desperate survivors cried for help from beneath mounds of smashed concrete and twisted metal, earthmoving machines and soldiers joined the search after yesterday's 7.2 magnitude quake struck the city of Van and the town of Ercis, some 60 miles to the north.

 

"Be patient, be patient," rescuers told a whimpering boy, pinned under a concrete slab with the lifeless hand of an adult, with a wedding ring, visible just in front of his face.

 

A Reuters photographer saw a woman and her daughter being freed from beneath a concrete slab in the wreckage of a building that had once been six storeys tall.

 

"I'm here, I'm here," the woman, named Fidan, called out in a hoarse voice. Talking to her regularly while working for more than two hours to find a way through, rescuers cut through the slab, first sighting the daughter's foot, before freeing them.

 

Standing by a wrecked four-storey building one woman told a rescue worker she had spoken to her friend, Hatice Hasimoglu, on her mobile phone six hours after the quake trapped her inside.

 

"She's my friend and she called me to say that she's alive and she's stuck in the rubble near the stairs of the building," said her friend, a fellow teacher. "She told me she was wearing red pyjamas," she said, standing with distraught relatives begging the rescue workers to hurry.

 

In Van, an ancient city of one million on a lake ringed by snow-capped mountains, cranes shifted rubble from a collapsed six-storey apartment block where 70 people were feared trapped.

 

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan flew swiftly to Van to assess the scale of the disaster in a quake-prone area that is a hotbed of activity for Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants.

 

Erdogan said he feared for the fate of villages which rescue teams had yet to reach. "Because the buildings are made of mud brick, they are more vulnerable to quakes. I must say that almost all buildings in such villages are destroyed," he told an overnight news conference in Van.

 

NTV broadcaster quoted Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin as saying the death toll had reached 264. Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay, speaking in Van, said more than 1,300 were injured. The interior minister said hundreds more were unaccounted for, many believed buried under rubble.

 

Newspapers said trauma had been piled on trauma in the southeast, where a PKK attack killed 24 Turkish soldiers in Hakkari, south of Van, last week. "Homeland of Pain. Yesterday terrorism, today earthquake," said Radikal newspaper.

 

Erdogan earlier flew by helicopter to Ercis, a town of 100,000 that was harder hit than Van, with 55 buildings flattened, including a student dormitory. "We don't know how many people are in the ruins of collapsed buildings," he said.

 

At one crumpled four-storey building in Ercis, firemen from the major southeastern city of Diyarbakir tried to reach four missing children. Aid workers carried two black body bags, one apparently containing a child, to an ambulance. An old woman wrapped in a headscarf walked alongside sobbing.

 

A distressed man paced back and forth before running towards the rescue workers on top of the rubble. "That's my nephew's house," he sobbed as workers tried to hold him back.

 

A group of women, some with faces covered by headscarves, wept as they looked on under a chilly blue sky.

 

Nearby, aid teams handed out parcels of bread and food, while people wrapped in blankets huddled around open fires after spending a cold night on the streets.

 

Rescue efforts were hampered by power outages after the quake toppled electricity cables to towns and villages across much of the barren Anatolian steppe near the Iranian border. It also damaged the main Van-Ercis road, CNN Turk reported.

 

More than 200 aftershocks have jolted the region since the quake struck for around 25 seconds at 10.41am yesterday.

 

"I just felt the whole earth moving and I was petrified. It went on for ages. And the noise, you could hear this loud, loud noise," said Hakan Demirtas, 32, a builder who was working on construction site in Van at the time.

 

"My house is ruined," he said, sitting on a low wall after spending the night in the open. "I am still afraid, I'm in shock. I have no future, there is nothing I can do."

 

The Red Crescent said about 100 experts had reached the earthquake zone to coordinate rescue and relief operations. Some 5,000 tents and 11,000 blankets, stoves and food were being distributed and mobile kitchens were set up to feed those made homeless. Sniffer dogs had joined the quest for survivors.

 

At Van airport, a Turkish Airlines cargo plane unloaded aid materials onto waiting military vehicles for distribution.

 

Workers set up a tent city in the Ercis sports stadium, as ambulances, sirens wailing, ferried the injured to hospital.

 

Dogan news agency reported that 24 people were pulled from the rubble alive in the two hours after midnight.

 

Erdogan later returned to Ankara for a cabinet meeting to discuss the response to the disaster. He said Turkey could cope by itself, but thanked nations offering help, including Armenia and Israel, which both have strained relations with Ankara.

Reuters

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence