Death toll reaches 279 in Turkey earthquake


ISTANBUL — The death toll in southeastern Turkey
climbed to at least 279 Monday, a day after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake
devastated the region.

Although the death toll was
slowly ratcheting upwards, Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said it
was unlikely to reach the 1,000 deaths feared Sunday.

At least 1,300 people were injured in the province of Van, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said.

the city of Ercis, which was worst hit by the quake, 970 buildings — or
about a third of the total — collapsed, according to the government’s
emergency committee.

More than 1,200 doctors and
rescue workers from across the country were sent to the region. Heavy
machinery was being used to help clear rubble and find those buried
beneath, according to a German news agency dpa reporter in Ercis. Cries
for help could be heard from several buildings, volunteers said.

19-year-old man was rescued from a collapsed six-storey building after
calling for help on his mobile phone. There were also reports of two
women and two children, aged 3 and 5 years, being pulled alive from the

Two temporary hospitals were set up in tents.

“We won’t leave any citizen in the cold,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said early Monday in the provincial capital Van.

as darkness fell in Ercis, protests were breaking out among families
who said they had yet to be issued tents. Witnesses said there were
thousands of people with no shelter.

Bulgaria, Germany and Iran also sent help, despite Ankara’s announcement
that it would deal with the crisis alone. The government accepted the
help because the teams had already set off on Sunday, it said.

were 10 strong aftershocks in the region lasting until midday Monday,
according to the German Research Centre for Geosciences.

The region, which borders Iran, is mainly populated by Turkey’s Kurdish minority.

from the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute said
Sunday that more than 1,000 people had likely been killed, given the
magnitude of the quake.

But other experts said Monday that the number was probably lower than originally feared.


©2011 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany)

Visit Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services