Turkey ends search for quake survivors at hotel

AP News
Posted: Nov 13, 2011 7:29 AM
Turkey ends search for quake survivors at hotel

Searchers on Sunday ended efforts to find anyone else alive in the rubble of an earthquake-shattered hotel in eastern Turkey, the state-run agency reported.

The 5.7-magnitude quake struck the city of Van on Wednesday, toppling two hotels, some two weeks after another more powerful earthquake killed some 600 people in the region. The two buildings had apparently been weakened by the force of first quake.

The country's disaster management agency said least 39 people were killed in the second quake.

The victims include two journalists and a Japanese relief worker who had rushed to the region in the aftermath of the 7.2-magnitude quake that struck on Oct. 23. Eight workers who were in Van to assemble temporary housing units for survivors also perished.

With no hope of finding any more survivors, search and rescue operations at the Bayram Hotel were declared finished on Sunday and earth-moving machines began to clear the debris, the Anatolia news agency reported. Rescuers have pulled out 15 survivors and recovered 25 bodies from that hotel's wreckage since Wednesday.

Search efforts at the other hotel, the low-budget Aslan Hotel, ended two days ago.

Authorities meanwhile, shifted attention once again to the difficult task of sheltering thousands of homeless survivors through the winter. The first quake destroyed at least 2,000 buildings, and with aftershocks continuing to rock the region, many people are refusing to return to their homes.

Turkey said it was erecting thousands more tents and was opening up state-run hotels throughout the country to house some of the survivors until the spring. Turkey has also notified countries offering help that it will accept tents and prefabricated homes.