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Monday, October 24, 2011

Turkish earthquake: 217 dead, more missing

Via Australia News Network, fatalities rising in Turkey :

" A powerful earthquake in south-east Turkey has killed 217 people, while hundreds are still missing. Some reports say the death toll will exceed 1,000.

The magnitude 7.2 quake hit near the city of Van - to be followed by a quake measjuring 6 and several smaller aftershocks.

Up to 50 buildings collapsed.

Military units were heading to Van to help with the rescue operation.

Television footage has shown panicked residents using shovels and other tools to try to rescue people trapped under an eight-storey building in the city centre.

Electricity has been cut and many people are using lanterns. Search and rescue teams were using a generator for lighting as night fell.

Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said the government was considering how it can help the victims.

She said consular officials were also trying to discover if Australians are in the disaster zone. "As part of that, we will assess what we can do to assist," she said.

One man, Halil Celik, spoke as he stood beside the ruins of a building that collapsed before his eyes. "We heard cries and groaning from underneath the debris, we are waiting for the rescue teams to arrive," he said.

"All of a sudden, a quake tore down the building in front of me. All the bystanders, we all ran to the building and rescued two injured people from the ruins."


At another site, three teenagers were believed trapped under a collapsed building. People clambered over the shattered masonry, shouting: "Is there anyone there?"

An elderly rescue worker sat sobbing, his exhausted face covered in dust. Police tried to keep onlookers back. Ambulance crews sat waiting to help anyone dragged out of the debris.

Turkey's Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute said the earthquake struck at 10:41am (local time) on Sunday and was five kilometres deep."

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