Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Turkish rescuers pull 2 more survivors from quake rubble

Nearly three days after a massive earthquake shook eastern Turkey, rescuers pulled two more survivors from collapsed buildings Wednesday.

The quake and its aftermath killed at least 471 people and injured at least 1,650 others, the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Relief Agency said in a statement on its website.

In the latest rescue, emergency crews pulled a 27-year-old teacher from debris 67 hours after the quake hit, the Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported.

The teacher, Gozde Bahar, had difficulty breathing and was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Eyup Erdem, 18, was pulled from a collapsed building where he had been trapped for almost 61 hours and was taken to a field hospital, the semi-official Anatolian news agency reported.

No more information was immediately available on either of the rescues, which occurred in the town of Ercis in the province of Van.

They came a day after crews pulled a baby, her mother and her grandmother alive from the rubble.

The father of 2-week-old Azra Karaduman remained trapped beneath the rubble, officials said. Crews pulled four bodies from the debris after her rescue, but did not say whether they included the infant's father.

Working in temperatures in the 40s (single digits Celsius), teams of rescuers have scoured the ruins for survivors since Sunday's 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

In the town of Guvecli near the Syrian border, the last of the funerals were held Wednesday for the 15 people who died in the town of approximately 2,000 residents. Eighty percent of the 200 buildings were destroyed in the quake and the others were rendered uninhabitable, officials said. Residents were spending the nights crowded into tents, which were in short supply. Residents said aid was arriving sporadically.

In Ankara, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that the eastern province would be rebuilt. He said 16 planes carrying search-and-rescue teams arrived in the region during the first two days after the earthquake and that 3,755 public personnel, 422 nongovernmental organization workers, 595 search-and-rescue vehicles and 860 health teams had been sent to the affected area.

Turkey said Tuesday that it would accept international aid, citing a need for tents and prefabricated houses for "the reconstruction phase" that will begin after the search-and-rescue efforts, Anadolu said.

Japan's embassy was the first to respond, promising to send about $400,000, Anadolu said. Japan suffered an earthquake and tsunami in March that killed thousands and triggered a nuclear crisis. Britain, France, Jordan, Qatar, Switzerland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the United States have also said they could help with reconstruction, the news agency said.

Israel's Ministry of Defense said a plane carrying seven prefabricated buildings and other aid was to depart Wednesday for the stricken region. At least 2,262 buildings were demolished in Van and surrounding villages and towns, the news agency said.

Relations between the two countries have been tense since last year's Israeli commando raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla laden with humanitarian aid. Nine Turkish activists were killed.

Turkey has suffered other major earthquakes in recent years.

A magnitude-7.6 earthquake in Izmit killed more than 17,000 people in 1999, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A magnitude-7.2 tremor in Duzce the same year killed 894 people, the agency reported.

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