by Staff Writers
Ankara (AFP) Nov 11, 2011
Questions arose Friday over building safety after a fresh earthquake in eastern Turkey claimed at least 22 lives, less than three weeks after hundreds died in a massive quake in the same region.
More than two dozen buildings collapsed in Wednesday's quake, including the Bayram Hotel in the city of Van where 10 people were crushed to death.
The hotel's owner Aslan Bayram said through the media that experts had examined his property after the October quake and given it the all-clear.
But Turkish newspaper photos of the inside of the hotel after the earlier quake showed deep cracks on the walls.
The leading Turkish daily Hurriyet said "no official inspection" had been carried out at the hotel.
The Radikal asked in a banner headline: "Who gave the all-clear?"
"Death, blatantly" said the daily Cumhuriyet, running a photo of the collapsed hotel on its front page.
On Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government would start a "legal process" against those who gave the all-clear reports on the damaged buildings.
"We do not know everything. We employ those people who are specialised. We are in a situation to abide by their reports," said Erdogan.
He repeated calls to citizens from the quake region not to enter the damaged buildings.
"Please do not enter damaged buildings and even do not approach them. Aftershocks are still continuing," warned Erdogan.
Opposition politicians heaped criticism on Turkish authorities, already slammed for a sluggish response to the October 23 quake which killed more than 600 people.
"Seventeen days have passed since the (October) quake. It is a very big mistake that no official damage assessment has been done since then," deputy leader of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party Gulten Kisanak was quoted as saying.
But Huseyin Celik of the ruling Justice and Development Party said in televised remarks: "I'm not an expert, but the preliminary damage assessment is not a quake resistance test."
Carrying out such tests on all buildings in Van, Celik's hometown, would take months, he said, noting that it is a city of around one million people.
Officials meanwhile raised the death toll to 22, including Japanese humanitarian worker Atsushi Miyazaki, according to the prime minister's disaster and emergency management centre.
Television footage showed rescue workers hunting for survivors under the rubble.
"We will complete search and rescue work by tomorrow," one worker told the private NTV television.
Rescue teams were also searching for two journalists from the Dogan News Agency in the rubble of the collapsed Bayram Hotel, where many journalists and aid workers were staying.
It was not clear how many people remained trapped under the rubble.
Turkey made an appeal to the international community for tents and prefabricated houses for quake victims, reported the Anatolia news agency.
The epicentre of Wednesday's quake was in Edremit district, some 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Van province, according to the Istanbul-based Kandilli Observatory.
The US Geological Survey said the epicentre was 16 kilometres south of Van, with its depth given as five kilometres. The USGS put the magnitude at 5.6, after having earlier put it at 5.7.
Turkey is crossed by several fault lines.
In 1999, two strong quakes in heavily populated and industrialised parts of northwest Turkey left some 20,000 people dead.
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Rescuers hunt for survivors in fresh Turkey quake
Ankara (AFP) Nov 10, 2011
Rescue teams searched Thursday for survivors of an earthquake that killed at least 12 people, toppled buildings and sowed panic less than three weeks after a massive deadly quake in the same area. Television footage showed the injured being treated at tents as private CNN-Turk television reported that most of the hospitals damaged during the quake were emptied. Officials late Thursday r ... read more
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