Death toll stands at 22 in Turkish earthquake; 1,000 hurt

 

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The death toll from a strong earthquake that rocked eastern Turkey climbed to 22 Saturday, with more than 1,000 people injured, officials said.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, speaking at a televised news conference near the epicenter of the quake, said 39 people had been rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings, including a woman recovered 14 hours after the main tremor.

Rescue workers were continuing to search for people buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings in Elazig province and neighboring Malatya, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said earlier.

Emergency workers and security forces distributed tents, beds and blankets as overnight temperatures dropped below freezing in the affected areas. Mosques, schools, sports halls and student dormitories were opened for hundreds who left their homes after the quake.

Related: 1985 earthquake in Mexico City

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1985 earthquake in Mexico City
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1985 earthquake in Mexico City
The Hotel Regis in Mexico City's central Alameda park square collapses after an earthquake in this September 19, 1985 file photo. The 1985 Mexico City earthquake, measuring a giddy 8.1 on the Richter scale, caught Mexico off guard, killing thousands as it toppled housing blocks and office buildings in a city built on the soft mud left by a dried-up pre-Hispanic lake.Some 12,000 people are believed to have died in this earthquake, with another 40,000 injured. President Vicente Fox will host a memorial service on September 19, 2005 for the victims as the country marks the quake's 20th anniversary. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar/File DA/VP
Rubble from the Hotel Regis lies in Mexico City's central Alameda park square after an earthquake in this September 19, 1985 file photo. The 1985 Mexico City earthquake, measuring a giddy 8.1 on the Richter scale, caught Mexico off guard, killing thousands as it toppled housing blocks and office buildings in a city built on the soft mud left by a dried-up pre-Hispanic lake.Some 12,000 people are believed to have died in this earthquake, with another 40,000 injured. President Vicente Fox will host a memorial service on September 19, 2005 for the victims as the country marks the quake's 20th anniversary. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar/File DA/VP
People look at the damaged Hotel De Carlo in Revolution Plaza in Mexico City after an earthquake in this September 19, 1985 file photo. The 1985 Mexico City earthquake, measuring a giddy 8.1 on the Richter scale, caught Mexico off guard, killing thousands as it toppled housing blocks and office buildings in a city built on the soft mud left by a dried-up pre-Hispanic lake.Some 12,000 people are believed to have died in this earthquake, with another 40,000 injured. President Vicente Fox will host a memorial service on September 19, 2005 for the victims as the country marks the quake's 20th anniversary. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar/File DA/VP
Hotel Regis in Mexico City's central Alameda park square collapses after an earthquake in this September 19, 1985 file photo. The 1985 Mexico City earthquake, measuring a giddy 8.1 on the Richter scale, caught Mexico off guard, killing thousands as it toppled housing blocks and office buildings in a city built on the soft mud left by a dried-up pre-Hispanic lake.Some 12,000 people are believed to have died in this earthquake, with another 40,000 injured. President Vicente Fox will host a memorial service on September 19, 2005 for the victims as the country marks the quake's 20th anniversary. Photo taken on September 19, 1985. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar/File DA/VP
FILE PHOTO 19SEP85 - TO GO WITH STORY MEXICO QUAKE - This 1985 file photo shows the Hotel Regis in Mexico City's central Alameda park square collapse two hours after the strongest earthquake to hit the capital in modern times. At least 7,000 people died as a result of the 8.2 Ricter scale quake. AW/SV
Handlers bring rescue dogs on the site of a building destroyed in the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City. (Photo by Owen Franken/Corbis via Getty Images)
Workers hold up a white sheet to block the view of onlookers as they extricate a body from rubble caused by the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City. (Photo by nik wheeler/Corbis via Getty Images)
Workers of a rescue operation stand before a building completely demolished in a the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Owen Franken/Corbis via Getty Images)
Rescue workers bring in equipment to help search for victims of the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Owen Franken/Corbis via Getty Images)
MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 01: Earthquake in Mexico: Baby survivors in September,1985. (Photo by Raphael GAILLARDE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 01: Earthquake in Mexico: Baby survivors in September,1985. (Photo by Raphael GAILLARDE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
A photo taken 19 September 1985 shows rescue workers before a collapsed building in Mexico City, after an earthquake leveled parts of the city killing up to 30.000 people, 19 September 1985. AFP PHOTO DERRICK CEYRAC (Photo credit should read DERRICK CEYRAC/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken 19 September 1985 shows the rubble of a collapsed building in Mexico City, after an earthquake leveled parts of the city killing up to 30.000 people, 19 September 1985. AFP PHOTO DERRICK CEYRAC (Photo credit should read DERRICK CEYRAC/AFP/Getty Images)
A fire ravages a building in Mexico City in the aftermath of the 8.1-magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico's capital on September 19, 1985. Mexico's earthquake recovery could be a model for Haiti's current earthquake recovery efforts. (Photo by David Walters/Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 9/19/1985-Mexico City, Mexico-A lone Mexican flag stands guard over a store that collapsed when an earthquake off of the western coast of Mexico shook the country at rush hour.
038042 67: An aerial view of a collapsed building is on display September 20, 1985 in Mexico City, Mexico. An earthquake registering 8.1 on the Richter scale hit central Mexico on September 19, 1985 causing damage to about five hundred buildings in Mexico City and killing over eight thousand people. (Photo by John Barr/Liaison)
038042 68: A truck carries coffins September 20, 1985 in Mexico City, Mexico. An earthquake registering 8.1 on the Richter scale hit central Mexico on September 19, 1985 causing damage to about five hundred buildings in Mexico City and killing over eight thousand people. (Photo by John Barr/Liaison)
38042 41: Rescue workers assemble near a collapsed building September 20, 1985 in Mexico City, Mexico. An earthquake registering 8.1 on the Richter scale hit central Mexico on September 19, 1985 causing damage to about five hundred buildings in Mexico City and killing over eight thousand people. (Photo by John Barr/Liaison)
038042 69: A crushed car sits on the street September 20, 1985 in Mexico City, Mexico. An earthquake registering 8.1 on the Richter scale hit central Mexico on September 19, 1985 causing damage to about five hundred buildings in Mexico City and killing over eight thousand people. (Photo by John Barr/Liaison)
Rescue workers and volunteers sift through the rubble of a collapsed building in 'Zona Rosa' area of Mexico City, a popular commercial and tourist area, 21 September1985, after an earthquake leveled parts of the city 19 September 1985. (Photo credit should read BOB PEARSON/AFP/Getty Images)
38042 21: New coffins sit on a baseball field in Mexico City, Mexico. An earthquake registering 8.1 on the Richter scale hit central Mexico on September 19, 1985 causing damage to about five hundred buildings in Mexico City and killing over eight thousand people. (Photo by John Barr/Liaison)
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“The earthquake was very severe, we desperately ran out (of our home),” Emre Gocer told the state-run Anadolu news agency as he sheltered with his family at a sports hall in the town of Sivrice in Elazig. “We don’t have a safe place to stay right now.”

The quake hit Friday at 8:55 p.m. local time (1755 GMT) at a depth of 6.7 kilometers (around 4 miles) near Sivrice, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said. Various earthquake monitoring centers gave magnitudes ranging from 6.5 to 6.8.

AFAD said it was followed by 228 aftershocks, the strongest with magnitudes 5.4 and 5.1.

At least five buildings in Sivrice and 25 in Malatya province were destroyed, said Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum. Hundreds of other structures were damaged and made unsafe.

Soylu said 18 people were killed in Elazig and four in Malatya. Some 1,030 people were hurt. Speaking at the same news conference, Koca said 34 people remain in intensive care.

Television footage showed emergency workers removing two people from the wreckage of a collapsed building in the town of Gezin. Another person was saved in the city of Elazig, the provincial capital, and two more from a house in Doganyol, Malatya.

A prison in Adiyaman, 110 kilometers (70 miles) southwest of the epicenter, was evacuated after being damaged in the quake.

AFAD said 28 rescue teams had been working around the clock. More than 2,600 personnel from 39 of Turkey’s 81 provinces were sent to the disaster site.

“Our biggest hope is that the death toll does not rise,” Parliament Speaker Mustafa Sentop said.

Communication companies announced free telephone and internet services for residents in the quake-hit region, while Turkish Airlines announced extra flights.

Soylu said emergency work was proceeding under the threat of aftershocks.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter overnight that all measures were being taken to "ensure that the earthquake that occurred in Elazig and was felt in many provinces is overcome with the least amount of loss."

Neighboring Greece, which is at odds with Turkey over maritime boundaries and gas exploitation rights, offered to send rescue crews should they be needed.

Elazig is some 565 kilometers (350 miles) east of the Turkish capital, Ankara.

Turkey sits on top of two major fault lines and earthquakes are frequent. Two strong earthquakes struck northwest Turkey in 1999, killing around 18,000 people.

A magnitude 6 earthquake killed 51 people in Elazig in 2010.

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