Rescue Teams Recover 39 Bodies From Landslide
CATAK, Turkey (AP) _ Rescue teams on Wednesday pulled 39 bodies from the muddy ruins of a coffeehouse that was hit by a landslide in this mountain village.
Rescue workers, police officers and soldiers wept openly as the mud-covered bodies were pulled out and identified one by one over loudspeakers. Relatives of the victims wailed in mourning.
Officials said nine of the bodies were not on the list of the missing. That brought the official death toll from the June 23 disaster to 64.
Two of the bodies were identified as Birgit Hastenteufel, 25, a social worker from Bamberg, West Germany, and Andreass Borghard, 28, a pharmacist, also from Bamberg. Another West German tourist was registered as missing.
Turkey’s two state-run television channels canceled entertainment programs Wednesday night as a sign of national mourning for the disaster.
Grieving villagers watched from a distance as the bodies were taken from the debris to be transported to the Numune hospital in Trabzon, about 20 miles away, for identification.
The landslide dumped half a million tons of dirt and rocks on the main highway from the Black Sea port of Trabzon to eastern Turkey and Iran. It also dammed a mountain river flowing through Catak, causing a flood that covered the debris of the coffeehouse.
The officials said the three-story building was pushed 30 yards by the force of the landslide. When the landslide hit, the coffeehouse was packed with travelers and several villagers stranded by an earlier rockfall on the highway.
Rescue operations were slowed by the threat of a new landslide while 20- foot floodwaters were being drained.