Turkish earthquake death toll rises

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The Independent Online

Rescuers have pulled out a man alive from the rubble of a collapsed building four days after a powerful earthquake hit eastern Turkey, killing 532 people.

The man is in his late 20s, says Anatolia news agency.

Television footage showed the man, surrounded by medics and other emergency workers, being rushed through hospital doors.

Rain and snow in the area is making life miserable for thousands of earthquake survivors.

Emergency officials said 2,300 people were injured and 185 have been rescued from the rubble after Sunday's devastating 7.2-magnitude quake.

Television footage showed a rescue team cheering and clapping as the man, wearing a red sweater and strapped to a stretcher, was carried out of the debris.

His eyes were shut most of the time, but he opened them at one point. He could not move his head, which was held steady in a brace.

"God is great," someone shouted.

The man, identified as 18-year-old Imdat Padak, was rescued by an Azerbaijani crew.

He was flown to the nearby city of Van and was dehydrated, but in good condition. Padak lives in the village of Kiziloren and was attending university preparation courses in Ercis, which was hardest hit by the quake.

More aid began to reach survivors, with Turkish authorities delivering more tents after acknowledging distribution problems that included aid trucks being looted even before they reached Ercis.

Families who did receive precious aid tents shared them with others. But some people spent a fourth night outdoors huddled under blankets in front of campfires, either waiting for news of the missing or keeping watch over damaged homes.

As survivors gathered pieces of wood to light campfires or stove-heaters, The Red Crescent and several pro-Islamic groups set up kitchens and dished out soup or rice and beans.

Sermin Yildirim, eight months pregnant, was sharing a tent with a family of four who were distant relatives, along with her own twins and husband. Her family was too afraid of returning to their apartment.

"It's getting colder, my kids are coughing. I don't know how long we will have to stay here," Yildirim said. "We were not able to get a tent. We are waiting to get our own."

Looking ahead, Turkey's weather agency predicted intermittent snowfall for the next three days.

Foreign assistance also began arriving. Israel, which has a troubled political relationship with Turkey, sent emergency housing units, blankets and clothing.

Britain said it was dispatching 1,000 tents and Germany, Russia and Ukraine also contributed. A Japanese disaster rescue team was working alongside Turkish rescuers.

Saudi King Abdullah ordered a 50 million dollar (£31 million) donation to help Turkey deal with the aftermath of the quake.

Syrians who had fled across the border to Turkey to escape violence in their homeland donated blood for the injured.

Search and rescue operations ended in the provincial capital of Van, state-run TRT television said. But searchers in bright orange raincoats continued digging through debris in Ercis, 55 miles (90 kms) to the north.

They pulled out the bodies of two dead teenage sisters and their parents who were holding hands, and a mother clutching her baby boy, according to media reports.