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Death toll rises to 582 in quake-hit Turkey

English.news.cn   2011-10-29 20:19:38 FeedbackPrintRSS

A Turkish man looks inside a tent set up as relief shelter for earthquake victims in Ercis, near the eastern Turkish city of Van October 28, 2011. The death toll from the earthquake rose to 582 and the number of injured was 4,152, the government emergency unit in the quake- struck province of Van said on Saturday. (Xinhua/Reuters)

ANKARA, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from a powerful earthquake that hit southeastern Turkey rose to 582 and the number of injured was 4,152, the government emergency unit in the quake- struck province of Van said on Saturday.

Nearly 187 people have been rescued, but chances of finding more alive decreased after the 7.2-magnificent earthquake hit southeastern Turkey six days ago.

No survivors have been found since Ferhat Tokay, a 13-year-old boy, was pulled out of the rubble on Friday after being trapped for 108 hours in Ercis, a town of nearly 75,000 people.

Search and rescue operations are underway at nine sites in Ercis, which suffered the most serious damage with scores of buildings collapsed.

The quake, one of Turkey's most powerful quakes in a decade, led to the collapse of many buildings.

As criticisms arose against substandard and unlicensed construction, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the government would demolish illegally constructed buildings.

Following the deadly earthquake in Van, the Turkish government planed to evacuate people in quake-prone zones to new houses.

The Environment and Urban Planning Ministry is reviewing a draft law on urban transformation and would add provisions that would allow the "urgent expropriation" of housing units in high- risk areas, semi-official Anatolia news agency reported Friday.

The government was also criticized for responding slowly during the initial days of the crisis. Victims of the quake, left homeless at freezing nights, were angry at the shortage of tents.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) put the number of "affected people" in the quake at 50,000, while Turkish officials have not yet declared any figures.

The IFRC announced Friday a preliminary appeal for more than 8. 2 million euros (10.7 million U.S. dollars) to help the victims.

"The freezing nights in the mountainous area surrounding the epicenter in the province of Van are a source of great concern," it said in a statement.

The Chinese government will send one million U.S. dollars of aid to Turkey while the Chinese Red Cross has already donated 50, 000 dollars for the survivors, Anatolia reported Saturday.

The Turkish government admitted its failure to respond immediately in the wake of the earthquake. Erdogan has sent many of his ministers to Van in order to monitor rescue and aid operations.

Turkey declined help from abroad in the first few days of the disaster but then changed its position and has received aid flow from many countries including Israel and Armenia, with whom Ankara has strained bilateral relations.

There was no more need for tents or blankets, and there was no problem with the provision of food and water, Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said on Friday, according to Anatolia.

"We see that everything is normalizing. Temporary housing has been provided in the quake-struck areas. There is not a lot of rush anymore. By Saturday night all emergency needs will be met," Atalay said.

Editor: Wang Guanqun
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