Turkey ends search for earthquake survivors


Relatives walk along graves of victim of the October 23 earthquake during a funeral ceremony in Ercis, province of Van, on October 28, 2011.



Authorities in Turkey stopped searching for survivors of last week's deadly earthquake on Saturday, Reuters reports. On Sunday, the death toll from the disaster rose to 596. 

Officials are now turning their attention to helping the thousands of people left homeless by the earthquake. According to Reuters, few of the 100,000 residents of Ercis, the town hardest hit by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake on October 23, are ready to return home. Tent cities have sprung up on the outskirts of town, and a government website said that a total of 43,000 tents have been handed out in Van province. People worried about the stability of their homes say they prefer to sleep in tents for now, despite the fact that the temperature has been dropping at night. 

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AFP reports that more than 4,150 people were injured in the earthquake, and that by Sunday, bulldozers were replacing search dogs as the region attempts to recover.

"It is unlikely, barring some miracle, that anyone else will be found alive in the rubble in such cold weather," Turkish doctor said on CNN-Turk television, according to AFP. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that while the death toll in Ercis is devastating to the community, it is lower than originally feared. The earthquake occurred on a sunny Sunday afternoon, meaning that many people were outdoors, and children were not in school. Several school buildings collapsed. 

The last person to be pulled from the rubble alive was Ferhat Tokay, a 13-year-old boy rescued early Friday morning.