Turkish Earthquake Death Toll Reaches 17

Posted November 11th, 2011 at 6:00 am (UTC-5)
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The death toll of Wednesday's earthquake in the Turkish province of Van has risen to 17, after rescue workers recovered the bodies of five more victims early Friday.

A senior disaster management official said Friday that authorities continue to search the rubble of a toppled five-storey hotel, although authorities no longer hear any signs of life coming from the structure.

He says rescue workers hope to finish the search by midnight on Friday, local time. There are concerns that freezing temperatures at night may threaten any potential survivors.

Wednesday's magnitude 5.7-earthquake caused more than 25 buildings to collapse in the Van region, which had already been devastated by a 7.3-magnitude quake on October 23.

Officials said Thursday all but three of the collapsed buildings were empty at the time of the latest quake, having been evacuated because of structural concerns.

But many residents in the area are angry that the government did not properly inspect all the buildings following last month's earthquake, which killed more than 600 people.

Protesters clashed with police on Thursday, while riot police responded with tear-gas and batons.

Many of the survivors from the first quake are still living in tents or make-shift open-air camps as temperatures continue to drop.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the epicenter Wednesday was about 15 kilometers from Van province.

It is not clear if Wednesday's quake was a strong aftershock.