October 23rd 2011 – Geneva. The Turkish Red Crescent is working to reach people trapped in rubble following the 7.2 earthquake that hit Van province near the Iranian border in eastern Turkey on Sunday. At least 80 people are confirmed dead but there are fears that this number may increase significantly.
At 7.2 on the Richter scale, this quake is the most powerful earthquake to hit Turkey in over a decade, and equal to the one that struck Haiti early in 2010.
Witnesses say local people, working by torchlight in freezing conditions, are using their bare hands to shift the rubble in a desperate attempt to reach survivors overnight.
Turkish Red Crescent workers and volunteers have already rescued an unconfirmed number of survivors from the rubble of a student dormitory which collapsed in the city of Ercis which has a population of 75,000 and is close to the Iranian border. Turkish Red Crescent rescue workers in Ercis say at least 25 buildings containing flats, including the one housing the dormitory, collapsed in the quake.
Red Crescent offices in Ankara, Erzurum, Mus, Adana, Diyarbakir, and Manisa have sent teams of disaster responders and supplies to the affected region. Over 2,000 tents, 7,500 blankets, 100 stoves, bread, water and food parcels are on the way to the site of the disaster and many more stocks are being organised for distribution. Soup kitchens have been set up for those who have lost their homes or are unwilling to re-enter them, fearing aftershocks.
The blankets and tents will be particularly critical as temperatures fall to close to freezing overnight. Electricity and telephone lines are also down in a number of areas of the remote Van province. A tent city is being set up in the stadium in Ercis.Turkish Red Crescent and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies (IFRC) continue to monitor the situation closely and are mobilizing resources to provide support.
Further updates will be received from the field overnight.
For further information contact:
Rebecca Thorn, Irish Red Cross, 087 7433275
Image 2: A man carries an injured girl after an earthquake in Tabanli village near the eastern Turkish city of Van October 23, 2011. The office of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said that an earthquake near the southeastern city of Van on Sunday had caused loss of life and damage to property, the state-run Anatolian news agency reported. It gave no numbers for the death toll. The earthquake had a magnitude of 6.6, Turkey's Kandilli Observatory and Research Institute said. REUTERS/Abdurrahman Antakyali/Anadolu Agency