Death toll rises as quake zone rocked again

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The death toll was mounting yesterday after an earthquake in eastern Turkey, with at least nine people killed and dozens more trapped by collapsed buildings.

Emergency workers said 23 people had been rescued alive but that up to 100 more remained unaccounted for.

Deputy prime minister Besir Atalay said Wednesday’s quake toppled 25 buildings in the city of Van but only three of them were occupied since the others had been evacuated after suffering damage in a previous tremor last month.

Mr Atalay said yesterday that the rescue work was concentrated at the site of two collapsed hotels and one apartment building.

The magnitude-5.7 quake was a grim replay of the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that hit on October 23, killing more than 600 people.

One of the buildings that collapsed was the Bayram Hotel, Van’s best-known hotel. It was at least 40 years old and was renovated last year.

Some of the guests were journalists who were covering the aftermath of the earlier quake which left thousands homeless and led a number of countries to send tents, blankets and other supplies to help the Turks.

The United States Geological Survey said the new earthquake’s epicentre was nine miles south of Van.

About 1,400 aftershocks have rocked the region since October 23. Many residents have been living in tents, despite the cold, too afraid to return to home. At least 2,000 buildings were destroyed in the stronger tremor and the authorities declared another 3,700 unfit for living in.

A member of the Turkish parliament, Nazmir Gur, said that people in the area were getting more desperate by the hour.

“The current situation is getting worse as people need tents,” he said. “As we heard from the governor and from the crisis centre unfortunately there are only very few thousands of tents. As we took a tour of a neighbourhood this morning everyone was asking for a small tent to save their children and women.”