Turkey rescuers look for survivors at 4 buildings

AP News
Posted: Oct 29, 2011 8:37 AM
Turkey rescuers look for survivors at 4 buildings

Turkish rescue teams on Saturday were digging through the remains of four collapsed buildings in what the deputy prime minister said would be the final day of the search for survivors of a devastating earthquake six days ago.

The death toll in the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that also rattled parts of Iran and Armenia, increased to 582, of whom 455 were in the eastern city of Ercis. Close to 4,000 were injured and some 230 were brought out of the ruins alive, authorities said.

On Saturday, rescuers pulled the body of a 27-year-old female teacher from a crumbled building and continued drilling through the wreckage in search of two other missing people.

Turkan Ormanoglu waited outside wailing for her son, another teacher, believed to be trapped beneath, as hopes of finding more survivors were dimming.

"We want to keep our hopes up, but I don't know," rescuer Yilmaz Ersoy told The Associated Press then paused pensively. "There is no indication that he is alive, but we are working as though he is."

Missing teacher Tahir Ormanoglu's family rushed to Ercis from the southern city of Adana as soon as they heard that the 27-year-old was trapped inside a building and have been waiting outside since. At least three people were brought alive from the block of apartments earlier, including a 2-week-old baby.

"My kid, my kid, my kid," the mother cried, clutching and kissing a photo of her son as she watched the rescue operation from inside of a fire engine.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said rescue work was under way at four sites in Ercis but he expected it to end later in the day.

Some survivors, meanwhile, expressed frustration over an uneven quake relief response, even after foreign assistance began pouring in and the government said an initial shortage of tents had now largely been overcome.

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Ishak Kartal, 73, traveled to Ercis with a young relative in search of tents to take back to his village of Ulupamir, population 7,000.

"We have four dead people. Not enough help has arrived," Kartal said. "We came to find some tents."

Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said the government was making plans to house the homeless in temporary, prefabricated homes or container-style housing units within two months.

Turkey canceled parades and other ceremonies marking the 88th anniversary of the founding of the republic in respect of the dead while survivors said they didn't even realize it was a holiday.

"It doesn't feel like a holiday to us," said Bayram Ala. "We're in an earthquake zone. There are aftershocks every night."


Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed.