More survivors pulled from rubble after Turkey earthquake

By Andrew Wilks, Associated Press

Rescue teams in Turkey have pulled more survivors from collapsed buildings, days after a powerful earthquake hit the country’s east, leaving at least 38 people dead.

Turkish television showed Ayse Yildiz, 35, and her two-year-old daughter Yusra being dragged out of the rubble of a collapsed building in the city of Elazig. They had been trapped for 28 hours after the earthquake struck on Friday night.

The magnitude 6.8 quake also injured more than 1,600 people but 45 survivors have been pulled alive from the rubble so far, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference on Sunday in Istanbul.

As overnight temperatures dropped to minus five C (23F), emergency teams set up more than 9,500 tents for displaced residents and distributed 17,000 hot meals.

People gather around fires after their houses in Elazig were destroyed by the earthquake (Ugur Can/DHA via AP/PA)

Rescue teams concentrated their efforts in Elazig’s Mustafa Pasa district and the nearby town of Sivrice, the closest residential area to the quake’s epicentre.

Nearly 680 aftershocks rocked the region as more than 3,500 rescue experts scrambled through wrecked buildings to reach survivors, working around the clock.

A magnitude 4.3 quake hit also neighbouring Malatya province on Sunday morning, the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) said.

The agency said 76 buildings were destroyed and more than 1,000 damaged in the quake. Unmanned aerial drones were being used to survey the area and co-ordinate rescue efforts.

Mr Erdogan said every effort was being made to alleviate conditions and promised to house displaced residents as soon as possible.

People gather inside a sports hall following Friday’s earthquake that destroyed their houses, in Elazig (Ugur Can/DHA via AP/PA)

“Turkey has begun to heal the wounds of this great disaster in unity, togetherness and coming together,” he said.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu promised financial help for the victims of the quake.

The president visited the disaster zone on Saturday to inspect the rescue operation, meet with injured people in the hospital and attend the funeral of a mother and son.

Mr Erdogan also condemned what he called a “smear campaign” on social media by those questioning the Turkish government’s preparations for earthquakes. A prosecutor in Ankara has opened an investigation into social media posts about Friday’s quake.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Sunday that 104 people were receiving hospital treatment after the quake, 34 of them in intensive care but not in critical condition.

Victims of the quake were taking refugee in tents, mosques, schools, sports halls and student dormitories. Authorities warned people not to return to homes that could be unsafe.