Survivors Rescued But Death Toll Rises From Turkey’s Earthquake

Posted October 25th, 2011 at 1:55 pm (UTC-5)
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The death toll from Sunday's earthquake in southeastern Turkey has risen to 432. 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.

Aid workers who continue to search for survivors rescued a two-week-old baby girl, her mother and grandmother from the rubble of a collapsed apartment building on Tuesday. The two had been pinned inside the building nearly 48 hours after the quake toppled more than 2,000 buildings. The father was also in the rubble, and it was unclear whether he survived.

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 Turkey's border with Iran did the most damage in the town of Ercis, 90 kilometers north of the city of Van.

The earthquake shut 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.

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

World leaders sent condolences and offers of help to Turkey. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and President Serzh Sarkisian of Armenia made a joint phone call to Turkish President Abdullah Gul to express their sympathies.

The United States, Israel and other countries have offered their help. President Barack Obama said the U.S. 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. 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.

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