Two powerful earthquakes that struck eastern Turkey have left a city of half a million a virtual ghost town, and survivors need relief aid desperately, a local official said Monday.
A magnitude-7.2 quake last month and a magnitude-5.7 quake last week flattened some 2,000 buildings, killed 644 people and left thousands homeless in the eastern Turkish province of Van, where an unusually cold November is forcing survivors to endure even more suffering.
Very few state-owned buildings in the provincial capital, also called Van, survived the quake, provincial Gov. Munir Karaloglu told the state-run Anatolia news agency. Many residents have fled because they fear going back into their homes even if they are not damaged.
"It is a ghost city," said Karaloglu. "Almost none of the buildings are in use."
Karaloglu called on the country to show "even more mercy" in the face of mounting needs, ranging from housing to food and warm clothing.
The remaining quake homeless were suffering through unseasonably frosty weather. The Anatolia agency cited weather officials as saying Monday that temperatures dipped as low as -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) overnight in the town of Ercis, which was the worst hit by the first quake.
The HaberTurk newspaper reported that a 7-year-old handicapped girl who had been living in makeshift tent died of pneumonia in Ercis on Sunday. Her father claimed that he could not obtain a proper tent from authorities, the newspaper report.
Several countries, including the United States and Israel, have sent in tents and prefabricated homes.