Turkey: Rescuers scramble to reach survivors trapped in rubble

World Sunday 26/January/2020 09:44 AM
By: Times News Service
Turkey: Rescuers scramble to reach survivors trapped in rubble

Turkish authorities have said at least 29 people were killed and nearly 1,500 injured in the devastating earthquake on Friday, as rescue teams scrambled to reach those trapped in the rubble.

Thousands of rescuers were deployed to the eastern provinces of Elazig and Malatya, many of them searching for survivors in the small lakeside town of Sivrice, in Elazig — the epicenter of the 6.8 magnitude quake.

The tremor caused 72 buildings to collapse in Elazig, officials said, adding that hundreds more were damaged. Rescue teams recovered at least 43 survivors from the rubble, according to authorities.

"I was home during the earthquake. It lasted for so long, it was like a nightmare," an eyewitness local told a news agency.

"I froze in the living room when it happened, my wife and our two children were screaming and running around," he said, adding that some of his neighbors jumped out of their windows in panic.

Fears for Istanbul

Hundreds of aftershocks have hit the region since Friday evening's tremor, including a 5.1 earthquake that hit Sivrice on Saturday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Elazig and Malatya, pledging that the state would do "everything we can" to help.

"We will not leave anyone in the open," he said.

Erdogan also urged the citizens to "ignore gossip and negative propaganda" linked to the earthquake, including social media posts where people called for financial aid.

Earlier, a prosecutor said there would be an investigation into the "provocative" online content. Turkey's broadcasting authority was also reportedly investigating media coverage of the earthquake.

Friday's quake renewed fears of a similar event happening in the 15-million metropolis of Istanbul, with experts warning that loose construction standards have left Turkey's biggest city unprepared for a major earthquake.

A powerful earthquake in 1999 struck near Istanbul, killing more than 17,000 people in the region.