Death Toll Rises In Earthquake Disaster in Turkey
DINAR, Turkey (AP) _ Cries for help rose from collapsed buildings Monday as rescuers searched in a heavy downpour for survivors of an earthquake that toppled nearly half the buildings in this Turkish city.
Authorities raised the death toll from Sunday’s quake to 71, and dozens more were feared trapped. About 200 people were injured in the magnitude 6 quake, said Mustafa Secen, the city’s health director.
``God, please save my children! Please, God!″ Necati Ozturk implored, his arms stretched skyward as an excavator dug in the ruins of his house.
Searchers then pulled out the bodies of his son and 3-year-old grandson. His two daughters-in-law and five neighbors were still buried in the rubble of the collapsed three-story building.
Nearly 45 percent of Dinar’s buildings were destroyed and wide cracks criss-crossed most of the remaining structures in the city of 100,000 people 200 miles southwest of Ankara.
Heavy rain and power outages hampered rescue efforts, and 43 aftershocks rattled the town throughout the day. One, with a magnitude of 3.9, hit at 9:55 p.m. (3:55 p.m. EDT), according to Kandilli observatory.
Some residents criticized the lack of equipment and slow pace of the rescue effort. Only 10 people were rescued Monday, Interior Minister Nahit Mentese said.
``There are two people in that building,″ Zubeyde Sezen said, pointing to her neighbor’s house. ``They needed to lift the ceiling up, but they only had excavators. Those brought the whole building down. Now it is impossible to get to them.″
Public Works minister Halil Culhaoglu said about 4,000 buildings _ about half the town _ collapsed. The quake damaged 18 nearby villages, said Mentese, who estimated damage at about $200 million.
There were some happy endings.
Hasan Yilmaz Coskun, 40, came out of a three-story building alive after 21 hours under the rubble along with two friends. They were among those 30 pulled out alive Monday.
``We were sure we’d die. We had no hope left. We were just waiting for God to come and take us. Then this morning we heard rescuers above and shouted for help,″ said an ashen-faced Coskun, who suffered some broken bones.
Tents and emergency food aid poured into the region Monday as the city struggled to cope with the devastation despite damage to the police station, the hospital, government offices and power facilities. President Suleyman Demirel toured the city at dawn.
``It’s God’s will. Be patient,″ Demirel said, trying to console a man whose wife was buried under the rubble of their house.
Most of Dinar’s residents spent the night outdoors, some taking shelter from the rain in cars. More than 100 people climbed into a 15-car train. Officials said 7,000 tents had arrived in the city.
Huseyin Ozturk, 13, his head bandaged, said Monday he survived the quake ``because when I felt the tremor, I managed to run outside. But too many things started to fall on my head.″
The last major quake in Turkey occurred in 1992 in the eastern city of Erzincan and had a magnitude of 6.8. It killed about 500 people.
Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas and the entire eastern region sit atop an earthquake-prone belt known as the Anatolian fault.