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Turkey quake kills at least 22, rescuers dig for survivors

REUTERS
  Kathmandu, Nepal      January 25 2020

ELAZIG, TURKEY (REUTERS) – The death toll from a powerful earthquake in eastern Turkey reached 22 on Saturday (Jan 25), as rescuers searched for survivors trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

The magnitude 6.8 quake late Friday shook Elazig province, about 550km east of the capital Ankara, and was followed by more than 390 aftershocks, 14 of which had magnitudes over 4.

Eighteen people were killed in Elazig and four more in the neighbouring province of Malatya, said Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Authority (AFAD), adding 1,103 others were injured and in hospitals in the region. It said rescue efforts were underway at three different sites in Elazig.

ELAZIG, TURKEY (REUTERS) – The death toll from a powerful earthquake in eastern Turkey reached 22 on Saturday (Jan 25), as rescuers searched for survivors trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

The magnitude 6.8 quake late Friday shook Elazig province, about 550km east of the capital Ankara, and was followed by more than 390 aftershocks, 14 of which had magnitudes over 4.

Eighteen people were killed in Elazig and four more in the neighbouring province of Malatya, said Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Authority (AFAD), adding 1,103 others were injured and in hospitals in the region. It said rescue efforts were underway at three different sites in Elazig.

He said Turkey, which straddles seismic faultlines and is prone to earthquakes, had learnt lessons from previous disasters which helped it address Friday’s incident. Drones were deployed in search operations and to communicate between provinces.

Emergency teams and rescue equipment were sent from other provinces to Elazig, with thousands of rescuers and medical personnel on the ground to look for and help survivors.

Flag-carrier Turkish Airlines started additional flights to Elazig from Ankara and Istanbul to help transport rescuers.

AFAD warned residents not to return to damaged buildings because of the danger of further aftershocks. It said beds, blankets and tents were being sent to the area, where some people sheltered in sports gymnasiums. Turkey’s Kizilay aid group also sent food, heaters and other materials to the region.

“I wish God’s mercy to our brothers who lost their lives in the earthquake, and urgent healing for those who were injured,” Erdogan said on Twitter on Friday.

Environment and Urbanisation Minister Murat Kurum, who spoke alongside Soylu on Saturday, said five buildings in Elazig had collapsed in the quake and there were several heavily damaged structures.

Soylu also said on Saturday a prison in the nearby Adiyaman province was being evacuated due to damage to the building.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said the inmates were being transferred to prisons in three nearby provinces.

Turkey has a history of powerful earthquakes. More than 17,000 people were killed in August 1999 when a 7.6 magnitude quake struck the western city of Izmit, 90km south-east of Istanbul. About 500,000 people were made homeless.

In 2011, an earthquake struck the eastern city of Van and the town of Ercis, some 100km to the north, killing at least 523 people.