Death Toll Rises in Turkey Quake

Posted October 24th, 2011 at 8:00 am (UTC-5)
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Officials in Turkey say the death toll from Sunday's earthquake in Van province has risen to more than 260, with as least 1,000 injured.

They said the magnitude 7.2 quake near Turkey's border with Iran did the most damage in the town of Ercis, about 90 kilometers north of the city of Van. The death toll from the quake is expected to rise.

Rescuers worked through the night with heavy equipment to lift fallen slabs of concrete hoping to find survivors. Several survivors, including a toddler, were pulled from the rubble Monday. The government says hundred of building collapsed in the quake.

The earthquake shut down electricity and water in several areas. Several strong aftershocks have also been recorded, including one with a magnitude of 6.1.

Countries, including the United States and Israel, have offered assistance to Turkey. U.S. President Barrack Obama said Sunday the U.S. is following the quake reports with great concern and will stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Turkey during this difficult time.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Kim-moon said he was saddened to learn of the loss of life from Sunday's quake. He praised Turkish authorities for their rapid response to the disaster and said the U.N. remains ready to offer help, if requested. Turkey has not yet called for international aid to help with the crisis.

Officials say the wreckage includes hotels and a dormitory. Survivors said cries from those trapped in the rubble were heard hours after the quake. The mayor of Ercis issued a call for urgent aid, saying there were many dead.

Television footage shows collapsed buildings and crushed vehicles in Van, and people using shovels and pry bars to claw through wreckage for survivors.

State television said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Van late Sunday, and the government set an emergency Cabinet meeting for Monday.

Major geological fault lines cross the region and small earthquakes are a frequent occurrence