Death toll in Turkey quake soars past 500; survivors plead for aid


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The death toll from Turkey’s massive earthquake soared to more than 500 on Thursday, officials reported, as survivors pleaded for more aid and some chastised authorities for what they consider a slow response to the disaster.

Many of those who managed to escape being crushed or buried by the 7.2-magnitude tremor, which slammed the town of Ercis in Turkey’s eastern Van province Sunday, were fearful of succumbing to the cold as thousands were forced to sleep outside.


While some survivors accused officials in the mostly Kurdish region of giving priority assistance to supporters of the ruling party, others blamed profiteers for hoarding and reselling supplies, such as much-coveted tents, Reuters news service reported.

PHOTOS: Powerful earthquake strikes Turkey

“Everyone is getting sick and wet,” Fetih Zengin, 38, an estate agent whose house in Ercis was badly damaged told the news service. “We have been waiting in line for four days like this and still nothing. It gets to our turn and they say they have run out.”

Many foreign nations, including France, Ukraine and Israel, have answered Turkey’s call for help by sending winterized protective tents, prefabricated housing and containers.

Turkish authorities said 534 people had been killed and 2,300 injured in the earthquake, the largest in Turkey in more than a decade, Reuters reported. Another 185 people had been rescued alive from the rubble of buildings. The search for survivors continued at some sites, but stopped at others.

A 5.4-magnitude tremor that hit the region Thursday further rattled nerves, but there were no immediate reports of additional damage, according to Reuters.


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-- Ann M. Simmons in Los Angeles