Death toll in Turkey earthquake rises to 51

    Rescue workers were searching eight wrecked buildings in Izmir Sunday despite dwindling hope for survivors as the death toll from a powerful magnitude earthquake which hit western Turkey rose to 51.

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

    More than 200 people were in hospital, AFAD said.

    Vice President Fuat Oktay said later Sunday the death toll had risen by two to 51 during a visit to Izmir, adding that nearly 300 buildings were damaged although most were only lightly affected.

    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 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 in the since officials warned residents to avoid returning to their homes.

    Hurriyet daily, 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.


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