Aftershocks hamper rescue efforts in quake-hit Turkey

Monday, March 8, 2010

Istanbul, March 9 (IANS/AKI) More than 40 aftershocks have struck eastern Turkey, hampering rescue operations in the region, where several people have been trapped since Monday’s earthquake that killed at least 51 people.

Hundreds of people spent the night in tents braving cold weather, following the 6.0-magnitude quake that struck Basyurt region of Karakocan town, 500 km east of Ankara, destroying six villages.

More than 40 aftershocks have struck the area since the first earthquake, hampering emergency workers who were trying to rescue a number of people trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings, rescuers said.

At least 17 of the victims came from the hillside village of Okcular, where up to 30 houses collapsed. Television footage from Okcular showed rescue workers and soldiers digging in the rubble of collapsed buildings in a bid to find survivors.

Ali Riza Ferhat, a resident, said he had been asleep in his home when the earthquake struck.

“I tried to get out of the door but it could not open. I came out of the window and started helping my neighbours,” he told reporters. “We removed six bodies.”

The nearby villages of Yukari Kanatli, Kayalik, Gocmezler and Yukari Demirci were also badly damaged and several deaths were reported from each village.

The Turkish government’s crisis centre said an additional 74 people were injured in the pre-dawn quake, which occurred while most people were sleeping.

The government initially put the death toll at 57 but later lowered it to 51.

The quake toppled the minarets of three mosques in villages in the area, according to Turkish media reports citing Elazig governor Muammer Erol.

“The number of people injured is not clear. Ambulances keep on going back and forth. Rescue work is continuing. Our gendarmerie and civil defence teams are at work,” Erol told Turkish daily Zaman.

“Everything has been knocked down; not a single stone is in place,” said Yadin Apaydin, the head of Yukari Kanatli village, where at least three people were killed.


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