Turkey quake death toll rises to 57

Elderly man rescued from rubble as Turkey quake death toll rises to 57
3 min read
01 November, 2020
The death toll from an earthquake that hit western Turkey on Friday rose to 57 as rescuers pulled out a 70-year-man from underneath the rubble in Izmir
Rescuers continued searching for survivors from the earthquake [Getty]

Rescue workers were searching eight wrecked buildings in Izmir on Sunday despite dwindling hope for survivors as the death toll from a powerful magnitude earthquake which hit western Turkey rose to 57.

Overnight, 33 hours after the quake, a 70-year-old man was pulled out from underneath the rubble to the applause of onlookers and taken to hospital.

The 7.0-magnitude quake also injured 896 people, the Turkish emergency authority AFAD said, after it struck on Friday afternoon near the west coast town of Seferihisar in Izmir province.

Read also: Prominent MBZ aide mocks Turkey earthquake victims

More than 200 people were in hospital, AFAD said.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca raised the death toll on Sunday in Izmir to 55. Two teenagers were also killed on Friday on the Greek island of Samos and at least 19 other people were injured.

The worst affected Turkish town was Bayrakli, where anxious families in thick blankets spent a second night in tents.

Others watched nervously as rescue workers went through the debris for a second day.

Some privately expressed concern that hopes of finding more survivors were fading as the hours pass by.

But a worker at the site of one collapsed building, who did not wish to be named, told AFP they believed at least 10 people could still be under the rubble.

Nearly 6,000 rescuers have been working all day and all night since Friday, mechanical diggers helping them remove blocks of concrete.

Periodically, the rescue work has been halted and everyone kept silent to listen for any sign of someone trapped in the rubble.

"It will be a miracle if they are found alive," a woman waiting to hear news of a family friend was overheard telling another.

Thousands of tents have been set up since officials warned residents to avoid returning to their homes.

The Hurriyet daily newspaper, citing local district reports, said two of the buildings where rescue efforts are concentrated were in poor shape in 2012 and 2018 respectively, with "low quality concrete" used to build them.

The newspaper said the "damning" report on one building clearly assessed it was "at risk" based on earthquake safety requirements and advised that "necessary measures" be taken to increase safety.

The second building had apparently had work undertaken to strengthen the structure, the daily added.

More quake fears

Turkey has reported more than 800 aftershocks following the quake, including 40 that were above four in magnitude.

The quake caused a mini-tsunami on the Greek island of Samos and a rush of water from the sea that turned streets into rivers in one Turkish town.

Friday's earthquake was so powerful it was felt as far away as Istanbul and Athens. The disaster has prompted Greece and Turkey to put aside their differences and work together to help those affected.

The quake is Turkey's deadliest so far this year, Turkish website HaberTurk noted. One in January killed more than 40 people in the eastern provinces of Elazig and Malatya.

Turkey has been the scene of repeated earthquakes that have caused massive destruction, including the huge earthquake measuring more than 7.0 magnitude centred on the western city of Izmit in 1999 which killed 17,000 people, including around 1,000 in Istanbul.

There have been fears over future disasters and how prepared Turkey is, although since 1999 Ankara has applied tougher rules on building safety and insurance.

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