Infant Girl Rescued As Death Toll Rises From Turkey’s Earthquake

Posted October 25th, 2011 at 11:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The death toll from Sunday's earthquake in southeastern Turkey has risen to 459. At least 1,300 people are injured.

The number of casualties from the 7.2 magnitude quake is expected to rise — with hundreds, even thousands, still trapped under the debris and thousands left homeless.

Aid workers who continue to search for survivors rescued a two-week-old baby and her mother from the rubble of a collapsed apartment building on Tuesday. The two had been pinned inside for nearly 48 hours after the quake toppled more than 2,000 buildings. The father was also in the rubble, and it was not clear whether he survived.

Israel's military has responded to an official Turkish request for aid with the a promise to send special equipment, including emergency housing units, as soon as possible. Turkey had earlier turned down Israel's offer of aid for those who lost their homes in the quake.

Nearly 90 countries have offered assistance, but Turkey has only accepted help from Iran and Azerbaijan, which border the quake-stricken area.

The International Federation of the Red Cross says its Turkish chapter is working to assist survivors and reach those trapped in the rubble. The Red Cross says more than 7,500 tents and 22,000 blankets have been distributed, as well as stoves, food and clean water. Hundreds of rescuers worked through the night with heavy equipment to lift fallen slabs of concrete, hoping to find survivors.

Officials say the quake near the border with Iran did the most damage in the town of Ercis, 90 kilometers north of the city of Van, shutting down electricity and water in several areas. Hundreds of aftershocks have shaken the area since the quake hit, including a moderately strong one on Tuesday, measuring 5.4, that sent people rushing into the streets.

Prisoners unnerved by the aftershock rioted and started fires at a prison in Van. The prisoners wanted to be allowed to evacuate the jail, but security forces surrounded the building to keep the inmates from escaping.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the area Sunday. He said mud-brick homes in nearby villages had all been flattened.

World leaders have sent condolences to Turkey. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and President Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia made a joint telephone call to Turkish President Abdullah Gul to express their sympathies. U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States will stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Turkey during this difficult time.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Turkish authorities for their rapid response to the disaster and said the U.N. remains ready to offer help if requested.

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