Deadly earthquake hits Turkey

Updated: 2011-10-24 14:46


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Deadly earthquake hits Turkey
Survivors react after seeing the damage caused by an earthquake in the eastern Turkish city of Van on Sunday. [Photo/Agencies] 

A survivor of the 7.2-magnitude quake that has killed at least 239 people in eastern Turkey was pulled from the rubble with three other people on Monday after he managed to call for help on his cell phone. Dozens of people were trapped in hills of debris, but authorities offered hope that the death toll may not rise as high as initially feared.

Rescuers searched throughout the night among pancaked buildings as families members waited outside, some in tears. Cranes and other heavy equipment lifted slabs of concrete and residents searched for the missing with shovels. Aid groups scrambled to set up tents, field hospitals and kitchens to assist thousands left homeless or who were afraid to re-enter their homes.

Survivor Yalcin Akay was dug from a collapsed 6-story building with a leg injury after he called a police emergency line on his phone and described his location, the Anatolia news agency reported. Three other people, including two children, were also rescued from the same building in the city of Ercis some 20 hours after the quake struck, officials said.

Officials said hundreds of mud-brick homes in villages and concrete buildings in two cities tumbled down in the earthquake that struck near the border with Iran, on Sunday. Worst-hit was the city of Ercis, an eastern city of 75,000 close to the Iranian border and one of Turkey's most earthquake-prone zones, where about 80 multistory buildings collapsed.

The bustling, larger city of Van, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of Ecris, also sustained substantial damage, but Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said search efforts there were winding down.

Sahin said he expected the death toll in Ercis to rise, but not as substantially as initially feared.

"As the rescue work progresses, there is a possibility of the Ercis death toll increasing but the figures are not likely to be scary numbers," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said 239 people were killed in the quake and more than a thousand others were injured.