Turkish workers clear debris in quake zone

AP News
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Posted: Oct 30, 2011 5:59 AM
Turkish workers clear debris in quake zone

Turkish workers on Sunday started razing damaged buildings and clearing the debris of collapsed ones a week after a massive earthquake killed at least 596 people.

A 5.3-magnitude aftershock early Sunday caused panic in the quake zone in eastern Van province, where thousands of survivors spent the night in tents. An Associated Press photographer witnessed people screaming in panic as the aftershock jolted apartment buildings in the city of Van.

Authorities on Sunday urged survivors not to enter damaged buildings. About 1,400 aftershocks have been recorded since last Sunday's 7.2-magnitude killer quake, they said. At least 2,000 buildings have been destroyed and authorities declared another 3,700 buildings unfit for habitation.

An AP television crew, in the worst-hit town of Ercis, says workers using excavators started clearing the rubble of collapsed buildings as hopes dimmed for survivors.

However, not all the missing have been recovered yet. Some families are still waiting for news about the fate of their loved ones.

The temblor has killed at least 596 people and injured 4,152 others, the country's disaster management agency said in an update Sunday morning. Thousands of homeless people were struggling in tents in the bitter cold as rain and snow brought more hardship.

Israel, which has a troubled political relationship with Turkey, sent more emergency housing units and warm clothing on two planes Saturday night, an Israeli defense military official said. Britain, Ireland, Iran, Germany, Russia and Japan were among other contributors.