Death toll rises in Turkey earthquake: PHOTOS (VIDEO)


Residents of Tabanli village in the Van Province in eastern Turkey rush to rescue survivors of a a 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Oct. 23, 2011.


Abdurrahman Antakyali

The death toll in Turkey's 7.2-magnitude earthquake has risen, as villagers in eastern Van Province continue to use shovels and even their bare hands to dig through the rubble of collapsed apartment buildings and offices to rescue survivors.  

(GlobalPost reports: 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocks Turkey

More than 1,000 people may have been killed in the earthquake, which struck one of Turkey’s most earthquake-prone zones, The Associated Press reports.

U.S. scientists recorded over 100 aftershocks in eastern Turkey within 10 hours of the quake, including one with a magnitude of 6.0. Authorities advised people to stay away from damaged homes, warning they could collapse in the aftershocks.

The quake also shook buildings in neighboring Armenia and Iran, the LA Times reports.

At least 217 were reported were dead by late Sunday, according to The Associated Press

The LA Times quotes Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying that many of those were killed in the city of Van and in Ercis, an eastern city of 75,000 close to the Iranian border.

During the quake, writes The Washington Post, cries of panic and horror filled the air, as tens of thousands "fled into the streets running, screaming or trying to reach relatives on cell phones."

Some 25 apartment buildings and a student dormitory collapsed in the town of Ercis on the north shore of Lake Van, CNN reports, quoting the Turkish Red Crescent.

The earthquake struck at 1:41 p.m. local time at a depth of 12.4 miles, with its epicenter 10 miles north-east of Van, the U.S. Geological Survey said. 

The hardest hit area was Ercis, the Post reports.

Emergency services vehicles were having trouble getting into the city, with rubble blocking road access, leaving residents using flashlights and shovels to clamber over collapsed buildings in search of survivors.

Survivors in Ercis complained of a lack of heavy machinery to remove chunks of cement floors that had pancaked on to each other, the Associated Press reports.

In Van, a bustling city 55 miles to the south, 10 buildings collapsed according to Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay, while highways caved in and damage sustained at Van’s airport caused flight diversions.

Van's mayor, Zulfikar Arapoglu, reportedly appealed for help. "We need urgent aid, we need medics," he said, the BBC reports.

CNN-Turk television showed one young man sobbing outside a collapsed building in Van, the provincial capital and saying: "My wife and child are inside! My 4-month-old baby is inside!"