Large Quake Rocks Eastern Turkey
Turkey’s largest earthquake in more than a decade may have killed 1,000 people, destroying apartment buildings and damaging 4,000 homes in the eastern province of Van, government officials said.
State-run TRT television said 85 people have been confirmed dead, 60 of them in the northern town of Ercis, while 80 buildings, including a dormitory, have collapsed. Officials from the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute said 500 to 1,000 people may have died.
The magnitude 7.2-earthquake struck in the province of Van by the Iranian border at 1:41 p.m. local time and was followed by more than 80 aftershocks, the observatory at Bogazici University in Istanbul said on its website. The temblor, 5 kilometers (3 miles) below the earth’s surface, was the province’s biggest since 1976 and the country’s most severe since a 1999 quake killed more than 17,000 people.
“The area where the earthquake occurred is very shallow,” Mustafa Erdik, head of the Kandilli observatory, said in televised comments. “Normally quakes happen 30 to 40 kilometers deep -- this is less than 10 kilometers, therefore there will be more damage.”
CNN Turk television showed images of men in Van on the rubble of a collapsed dormitory building, digging away wreckage with shovels to reach people they believe were trapped underneath.
More than 1,000 rescue workers from about 30 provinces are heading to Van, about 1,300 miles from Istanbul, said Mustafa Aydogdu, a spokesman for the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency.
Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis spoke with Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu to extend his condolences and assured him the country was prepared to assist its eastern neighbor, the ministry in Athens said in an e-mailed statement. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization also said by e-mail that it stands “ready to assist our ally Turkey.”
Other countries that called to convey condolences and offer help include Israel, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Ukraine, Russia, Canada and South Korea, the U.S., the U.K, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Georgia, China, Japan, Iran and Kosovo, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.
The Turkish Red Crescent is coordinating initial efforts to get aid to Van from eight provinces, Erdem Coplen, a spokesman in Ankara, said in an e-mailed statement. Under the first stage of the emergency response, 1,163 tents, 4,250 blankets, 100 heaters and food has been shipped to the region, he said.
“I would advise our citizens to not enter damaged buildings without permission from local authorities,” Erdik said. “The biggest aftershock was magnitude-5.5 and these will continue for a week to 10 days.”
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Van and boarded a helicopter to Ercis, the worst hit area, TRT reported. Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said government agencies are coordinating a response to the earthquake and will meet in the province, which is to the east of Turkey’s largest lake and south of Mount Ararat.
The quake in 1999 struck 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) east of Istanbul, causing damage estimated at the time at $6.5 billion. A temblor measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale killed more than 40 people in Elazig, west of Van, last March.
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