Quake-hit Turkey Ending Search for Survivors

Posted October 29th, 2011 at 10:15 am (UTC-5)
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Hopes of finding anyone else alive in the mounds of rubble left behind by the powerful earthquake the ravaged Turkey earlier this week are fading.

Turkish officials said Saturday they were concluding their desperate search for survivors. Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said rescue efforts were still underway at four sites but that such efforts would end at nightfall.

About 230 people have been pulled alive from the ruins left behind by last Sunday's 7.2 magnitude quake – the last one a 12 or 13 year old boy.

Officials said Saturday that the official death toll had risen to 582. They said 455 of the dead came from the eastern city of Ecris. Another 4,000 people were injured.

Turkish authorities are rushing to provide shelter for thousands of victims left homeless by the quake as cold weather sets in. Some survivors have expressed frustration over the government's response, especially after an initial shortage of tents and other temporary shelter.

The United States military said Friday it is sending blankets, sleeping bags, hygiene kits and other supplies. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. will assist in any way possible. He said the airlifting of the supplies will begin within the next day.

The United Nations refugee agency said Friday it was launching an emergency airlift to the quake-stricken region. A UNHCR spokesman said the first of four daily cargo planes, each carrying about 500 tents and 10,000 blankets, will land in the eastern city of Erzurum.

From there, trucks will bring the supplies to the provincial capital of Van for distribution to quake victims. The spokesman says the shelter needs are great.

The International Federation of the Red Cross says its Turkish chapter has distributed more than 7,500 tents and 22,000 blankets, as well as stoves, food and clean water.