Survivor found 100 hours after Turkey quake

Thursday 27 October 2011 21.05
Members of the Turkish army try to reach people trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building
Members of the Turkish army try to reach people trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building

Emergency crews in Turkey today managed to save a teenager more than 100 hours after Sunday's 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck.

Aydin Palak, 18, was pulled out from rubble in the town of Ercis, which took the full brunt of the earthquake.

Television footage showed emergency workers carrying him to an ambulance over their shoulders on a stretcher.

His rescue came after emergency workers pulled a 19-year-old from the rubble earlier in the day, although prospects of finding more people alive are fading fast.

Some of the rescue teams have started to leave the region, Anatolia news agency said.

As rescue efforts were complicated by snow fall in eastern Turkey and with hopes in Van of finding anyone else alive receding, the focus is shifting to how to help survivors.

The arrival of an Israeli plane carrying five pre-fabricated homes to provide shelter was a symbol of the change of heart by the government which had initially refused help from abroad.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have been toxic in recent months in the wake of a deadly raid by Israeli commandos last year on an aid vessel bound for Gaza.

"Three more planes loaded with aid supplies will come to Turkey within two days," Nizar Amer, an official from the Israeli embassy in Ankara, told Anatolia.

Foreign ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal today said diplomatic relations with Israel and humanitarian aid were separate issues, Anatolia reported.

Mr Unal said 14 countries as well as United Nations bodies would send help to Turkey, including Britain, France, Russia, Jordan and Belgium.

A 150-person rescue team from Azerbaijan was already in the quake zone, the first foreign team to arrive.

An Armenian plane carrying 40 tonnes of emergency supplies including tents, sleeping bags and blankets was set to take off late today, the emergency situations ministry in Yerevan said.

The government acknowledged failings in the initial rescue efforts and some locals have complained that aid is not being distributed fairly.

Some families who had been staying in tents began returning to their homes, despite warnings that they were still at risk of collapse from aftershocks.

Many families have been forced to sleep in overcrowded tents or even out in the open around fires as the temperatures dropped to below freezing.

Red Crescent head Ahmet Lutfi Aker told NTV news channel that 27,500 tents had been brought in to Van.

In its latest damage assessment bulletin, the prime minister's emergency unit said that 534 people were now known to have died after the 7.2 magnitude quake struck.

A further 2,300 had been injured in the disaster, it added.

A total of 185 people had been pulled alive from the rubble, officials said.