by Staff Writers
Istanbul (AFP) Oct 29, 2011
The death toll from eastern Turkey's devastating earthquake rose to 596 on Sunday while bulldozers were replacing sniffer dogs as search efforts wound down.
More than 4,150 people were injured in the 7.2 magnitude quake that shook the eastern Van province near the Iranian border a week ago, the prime ministry's emergency unit said in a statement on its website.
Search and rescue work ended in Van's city centre, but emergency crews went on working at two locations in the town of Ercis, which was hardest hit by the quake, the unit said.
Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay had said Saturday that the work would stop overnight.
Some 231 people have been pulled out alive from the rubble, Atalay said when announcing the previous toll of 582.
The last person to be found alive was 12-year-old Ferhat Tokay, who was brought out at dawn on Friday after spending 108 hours trapped under the ruins of a building in Ercis, a town of 75,000.
"It is unlikely, barring some miracle, that anyone else will be found alive in the rubble in such cold weather," a Turkish doctor was quoted as saying on CNN-Turk television.
With the focus shifted to clean-up efforts and the plight of survivors, Atalay urged Turks to donate warm clothes to those now living in tents after their homes were destroyed.
Media reports said Sunday that the biggest problem was still a lack of tents and a need for heaters with temperatures dipping to below freezing in the region.
Health officials in Ercis warned survivors against drinking tap water, as the water network was damaged during the quake and might be contaminated with sewage, the Anatolia news agency reported.
City Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar promised Saturday that new housing would be ready in Van by September 2012 for people left homeless by the quake.
In the meantime, Turkey plans to provide temporary, pre-fabricated shelter units, Bayraktar said.
Many camped out in tents or makeshift shelters, fearing more building collapses in aftershocks. Rain and snow added to their misery, turning some camps into mudbaths.
Some searched for houses to rent, but prices have shot up with landlords taking advantage of the disaster.
"People whose houses were collapsed started to look for new houses. There is a serious increase in prices. ... This is not ethical," Salih Ozbek, the head of Van Real Estate Agencies' Association, told Anatolia.
Turkey has accepted help from dozens of countries, including Israel and Armenia, both states with which it has frosty relations.
The United States was the latest country to offer help.
Atalay thanked the international community "for its concern" for the Turkish quake victims, and said electricity, gas, running water and telecommunications networks had been re-established throughout the region.
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Teenager saved days after Turkey quake as toll reaches 550
Ercis, Turkey (AFP) Oct 27, 2011
Snow blanketed quake-hit eastern Turkey Thursday, while emergency crews found a teenager alive in the rubble more than 100 hours after the disaster even as the death toll climbed to 550. Aydin Palak, 18, was pulled out of the wreckage in town of Ercis, which took the full brunt of the quake, media reports said. Television footage showed emergency workers carrying him to an ambulance over ... read more
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